Service members and families in South Korea will no longer have monthly dollar limits on purchases at commissaries, according to a new U.S. Forces Korea memorandum.
The new policy is effective immediately, according to the Sept. 11 memo signed by Air Force Maj. Gen. Stephen C. Williams, chief of staff for U.S. Forces Korea.
The change applies to all authorized shoppers in commissaries. Previously, commissary shoppers were limited to $800 for an individual, plus $300 for each additional family member, per month. For a family of four, that’s a limit of $1,700 a month.
“This is huge. Removing the limit allows families to get the products they need,” said Kelly Hruska, government relations director for the National Military Family Association. “It’s important especially for young families. The cost of diapers and formula alone racks up very quickly.”
There are more than 26,000 service members and about 3,000 civilians working for the services or DoD stationed in South Korea.
Ration controls remain in place for the commissaries and exchanges, as officials monitor the purchases in order to control black marketing of U.S. goods. For example, there are limits on the amount of beer, wine and liquor.
Military officials have also removed the requirement for authorized shoppers to show identification as authorized customers enter commissaries and exchanges. Now, customers show their required IDs and other documents at the cash register, where purchases of duty-free goods and services are verified and recorded.
The command has also eased the requirements for allowing visitors into commissaries and exchanges. Authorized shoppers can bring visitors to commissaries and exchange facilities in South Korea, but visitors can’t purchase anything.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.