Citing numerous letters and pleas to keep Fort Monmouth’s commissary open past the closing of the fort, New Jersey lawmakers lashed out against the Department of Defense’s Tuesday announcement that the commissary would close at the same time as the base.
“The commissary is a critical resource for military families, and this will only serve to heighten the impact of the base closure,” U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-Cliffside Park) said in an announcement.
“Thousands of military families and veterans will now be faced with a sudden lack of access to the affordable food and basic goods they need,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-Hoboken) in a news release. “The Department of Defense should have at the very least kept the commissary open long enough to enable families to adjust to this change, as we’ve been advocating for over a year.”
According to a press release issued by Lautenberg’s office, the Army estimated the commissary’s services would be used by 19,000 service members, their spouses and military retirees after the base closed in September.
In February, Army Secretary John McHugh made an official request to the Defense Department, asking that the commissary remain open for an additional two years. According to a letter from McHugh to Lautenberg, the extension would be conditional based upon the commissary’s sales numbers.
Other lawmakers expressing outrage at the closure included U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch) and Rush Holt (D-West Windsor), who called the decision “inexplicable and alarming.”