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Editorial Comment — September 2012

50 Years Defending The Benefit:
A Golden Milestone ...

 

WHAT goes around, comes around; and if you stick around long enough, it comes around again and again. It's a good idea to be on the side of the angels from the git-go.

Only a few short weeks after the first issue of Exchange & Commissary News came off the presses 50 years ago, the Cuban missile crisis erupted.

And within a few months, powerful voices on Capitol Hill were calling for closing down exchanges, commissaries, or both. Then GAO (at that time known as the General Accounting Office) claimed that half of the stores were operating illegally. It wasn't long before the Office of Management and Budget — OMB — proposed eliminating the commissary system entirely.

Sound familiar?

Since 1962, troops have repeatedly been called upon to serve, from Vietnam to Bosnia, from Kosovo to Afghanistan and Iraq ... and calls have come just as regularly from left, right and center to take away one of the most prized benefits they have earned in the service: their resale privileges.

More than 20 of the past 50 years have seen U.S. servicemen in sustained combat operations; and in most of those years exchanges and commissaries have been threatened with outsourcing, privatization or elimination.

It's to be expected that the troops worry about attacks in the field, but it is inexcusable that they have to worry about attacks upon their benefits on the home front as well.

For half a century, exchanges and commissaries have been dodging bullets, and E and C News has been doing its best to help the resale systems deflect them.

FROM the very first issue, the magazine has continually reminded its readers that the entire purpose of the exchange and commissary systems is to support the warfighters and their families.

With Murry Greenwald at the helm, it always led the call in insisting that the nation honor the quality-of-life promises servicemembers bought with their blood on the battlefield. Over time, Exchange and Commissary News became the voice of the military resale market.

Murry never claimed to have done it all by himself. He was humbled, sometimes even awed, by the breadth of support he and E and C News enjoyed across the entire landscape of the military resale market.

There were those who he looked up to and those he looked to for advice and information; the list is long and varied. He had his heroes — Dan Daniel, of course; Bill Nichols, Joe Addabo ... and Don Quixote (yes, Don Quixote). And there were those whose opinion he especially respected, though he didn't always agree: Will Cofer. Mike Higgins. Jim Juliana. Alex Douvres.

There were those whose tenaciousness, perspicacity and business sense he admired, and those whose overriding concern for the welfare of servicemen and women and their families inspired him.

Normand Lezy. Ed Chavarrie.

Jack Appleby. John Long. Gary Alkire. Aubrey Rembold. Tony DeGaetano. Kathryn Frost. Bob Swarts.

Mike Downs. Marilyn Iverson. Bill Irwin and Dick Murray (they made a good team, Murry often said).

Chuck Johnson, Francois Schwarz, John Becker, Paul Coughlin, Val Monette, John K. Kealy, George Sarvis, Harold Stein, Ed Jared. Roy Thomas, Dick Steinberg.

John McGowan. Roy Speight. Bob Tate. Cindy Whitman Lacy, Tom Milks, Rip Rowan, Jed Becker, Andy Anderson, Walter Buckert, Tom Gordy.

And that's barely a beginning; this sampler is far from complete. Including all the colleagues, all the advisors, all the schmoozers Murry held in mutual high regard would certainly fill this page, if not the entire issue.

WE start our 51st year with yet another election-year budget-crisis cliff-hanger: Will the angels of goodness triumph, and the benefit remain intact, or will the forces of darkness prevail? Until the outcome is decided — and even after — we must pass on, as well as take to heart, the advice that Murry and the military resale legions have been giving all along:

Keep up the good fight!

... We certainly will!


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