When word got out last week that the Department of Defense (DOD) would, in fact, be closing the commissary at Fort Monmouth, Patch gave its top spot to the slighted law makers who had pushed to save it. But Freeholder Lillian Burry says its the "marginal people" who should be front page news.
Not marginal in spirit or worth, Burry would say, "but whose lifestyle is quite marginal." Burry said she received a number of calls from people upset over the DOD's decision but the one that stood out the most to her was a widow, who is largely dependent upon the commissary and the 30 percent discount it provides on food and household goods to members of the military and their families.
Burry said her conversation with the widow, "Put the human element on it, which I am afraid was not done by the DOD."
At her meeting this week with the Veterans Affairs Committee, a subcommitte of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority (FMERA), she said the members spent a long time discussing their disappointment with the decision.
"It goes beyond disappointment," she said.
In its statement to Patch last week, the DOD said, "In this constrained budgetary environment the department must take advantage of all previously approved and programmed savings, so we can realign resources to better support force structure changes ... Authorized patrons can still enjoy the commissary benefit by using the commissaries at Lakehurst NAES (30 miles), Joint Base Lakehurst-McGuire-Dix (46 miles) and Fort Hamilton (45 miles)."
"The idea," Burry told the FMERA board Wednesday, "that [the widow] could get to Fort Dix is out of the question."
The freeholder said she and the other committee members are looking into the possibility of providing transportation, possibly once a week, to other commissaries for people like this widow who can't get there on their own.
FMERA's executive Director Bruce Steadman had made his disapproval of the DOD's decision public last week in Patch's story and reiterated FMERA's position again Wednesday. Eatontown Mayor Gerald Tarantolo made a motion at the FMERA meeting that the authority pass a resolution and send it to the DOD making its disapproval official.
"The Department of Defense is very insensitive on this decision that they made," he said.
The board agreed unanimously to send the resolution.
Retired Army man and Oceanport resident Michael McMahon applauded FMERA's move and urged the board to send the resolution out immediately.
"I don't think that any of those people who made that decision drive a 100 miles to the grocery store," McMahon said.