DeCA At 30: Legacy of Service



On Oct. 1, 1991, the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) officially took over the responsibility of providing the commissary benefit to U.S. military members and their families.


As the agency enters its 30th year, DeCA Director and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bill Moore applauded the agency’s legacy of service.


“When you think about the enormity of forming this agency, you cannot escape the tremendous investment Congress made in DeCA to serve the greatest customers in the world,” Moore said.


“Today, that legacy of service drives us to be the military’s grocery provider of choice, reaffirming our commitment to deliver the commissary benefit to as many eligible patrons as possible at the best possible savings directed by Congress.”



The commissary benefit began in earnest in 1775, when the Continental Congress established the Office of the Commissary General of Stores and Purchases in order to provide the Continental Army with their daily rations.


The commissary benefit has taken on many shapes and forms in the past nearly 250 years, and it has always been dedicated to fulfilling customer needs throughout its history and to the present day.


This legacy of fulfilling customer needs was also prevalent through the 1800s and into the Depression years of the late 1920s and early 1930s, when many commissaries were being run in the same fashion as civilian grocery stores.


During those days, some commissaries were even offering home delivery service for families residing on post. There was a 12-item limit for home deliveries.


The commissaries continued to progress through World War II, and by 1948, each individual service ran its own commissaries with differing procedures and systems.


The Army ran the Army Troop Support Agency (TSA), the Navy ran the Navy Resale System Support Officer (NAVRESSO), and the Air Force operated the Air Force Commissary Service (AFCOMS). In the early 1970s, the Marine Corps Services Commissary Branch would operate their stores.


In 1989, after decades of separate services running commissaries, Congress directed the Department of Defense (DoD) to conduct a study of the separate military commissary systems under the leadership of Army Lt. Gen. Donald E. Jones.


The ensuing report by the Jones Commission suggested consolidating the separate service systems into one agency to improve service and save money.


As a result, the Defense Commissary Agency was established on May 15, 1990, by a memorandum from the Deputy Secretary of Defense. Army Maj. Gen. John P. Dreska was named DeCA’s first director in June 1990.


On Sept. 27, 1991, both the TSA, based here at Fort Lee, and AFCOMS, based at Kelly AFB, Texas, held deactivation ceremonies. NAVRESSO gave up its commissary functions and became the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM).


Three days later on Sept. 30, the DeCA activation and building dedication ceremony took place at its new headquarters at Fort Lee, although the activation wasn’t official until Oct. 1, at which time DeCA assumed full control of all military commissaries.



DeCA has served the military community through some trying times, including the worst pandemic in a century that struck in late 2019.


By March 2020, people were being ordered to quarantine at home and businesses and restaurants closed their doors. But commissaries remained open and would eventually be designated “mission-critical” to DoD’s pandemic response.


Early in the pandemic, shoppers rushed to their commissaries for essential items; in fact, the largest sales day in the history of the agency occurred on March 13, 2020.


DeCA’s response to the needs of its customers during the pandemic was memorable, and its response continued its long legacy of dedicating itself to serve customers and their needs to the fullest measure.


Commissaries today boast conveniences like Internet ordering/curbside pickup services; self-checkouts; digital coupons; dietitian-approved resources to identify healthy foods; sushi bars; hot foods; deli-bakeries; credit and debit card acceptance; gift certificates and much more.


The ongoing evolution of the commissary business model with variable pricing has made store brand items possible.


“I am immensely proud to acknowledge our 30th anniversary, a milestone that recognizes the hard work of our agency employees and the significance of the benefit to the military community,” Moore said.


“Although we continue to offer significant savings, our customers deserve more, and we are dedicated to providing that through clean, safe stores, healthy options and great customer service.


“Most importantly, we are making shopping the commissary easier and more convenient. I am thrilled about the future of the commissary benefit.”


NOTE: During October, DeCA will commemorate the 30th anniversary of its establishment on Oct. 1, 1991, as the military’s commissary agency. In honor of DeCA’s legacy, the agency will create a “DeCA Turns 30 Commissary Gift Card Giveaway” to celebrate this milestone. To learn more about the giveaway, go to the webpage,, which will be published by Sept. 29.


Source: DeCA

Edited by Larry Lapka



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December 3, 2021



From the desk of the ALA President

Government shutdown update. Funding for the government expires at midnight December 3. The most likely outcome of the current negotiations is another short-term extension of funding and January 21 or 28, 2022 are the dates being tossed around. In any event, last week we reported that the Pentagon has agreed to allow DeCA to use a reserve source of funding to keep all U.S. and overseas stores running.

Defense bill delay. There are multiple provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act with effects on resale programs and quality of life programs for military folks, including: $24 billion more for Defense that takes pressure off cutting defense programs across the board, funding for DeCA, provisions allowing DeCA flexibility to use funding sources to best meet patron needs, the basic needs allowance to address food insecurity and so on. The Bill is delayed far longer this year than usual. The House passed their version. The Senate version is tied up in a legislative hairball that took a backward step toward getting untangled this week. As of today, the bill is on hold until they can work out a forward path. And once the Senate bill passes, they must go into conference with the House. That conference may be altered somewhat, and they could go into a ping-pong mode where they toss versions back and forth between two chambers instead of a more normal and formal conference process. At any rate, staffers on both sides of the Hill are informally conferencing to clear the underbrush of minor issues so that the Senators and Congressmen can focus on the big issues when the Senate passes a bill. The longer its delayed, the more it gets …





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  Bisek & Company, Inc. Military Resale Distributing Agent and Broker
Understands how important the benefit of the Commissary and Exchange is to the active duty and retired military service personnel. We will work with a manufacturer to bring their variety of products to this unique market. Bisek & Company’s sales team is dedicated to doing what it takes to keep those special shoppers coming back to the Commissaries and Exchanges. Contact Bisek & Company so we may help you better understand what it takes to succeed in expanding your role in this very special benefit. Contact Jennifer Harrell ( or Laurie Cust (



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Christopher “Chris” T. Burns, executive director of the Marketing, Sales and Logistics Group and a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES), will be leaving the Defense Commissary Agency in December. He has accepted a senior vice president of operations position at the Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM), announced DeCA Director and CEO Bill Moore.



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‘You deserve more!’: Commissary sales promotions offer customers extra savings over the holidays
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RDN suggests healthful food trends for 2022
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SHFM 2021 National Conference to be Held at Omni Amelia Island, Florida
Total Food Service
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Date Event More Information
May 2 – 6 Exchange Express Conference & Expo 2022 The Rosen Centre Hotel
Orlando, FL

Specific information on upcoming ALA events is posted regularly on the ALA website.




May 2-6, 2022
The Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando, FL


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