Senior enlisted advisor completes four-year tour at Fort Lee HQ
FORT LEE, Va. – Air Force Command Chief Master Sgt. Stuart M. Allison will be deploying to Djibouti, Africa, later this month, thus ending his tenure as the Defense Commissary Agency’s senior enlisted advisor.
Allison leaves DeCA effective Sept. 13, and goes to Africa as the group superintendent for the 449th Air Expeditionary Group. In the meantime, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tomeka O’Neal, former command sergeant major for the Joint Munitions and Lethality Life Cycle Management Command, Rock Island, Illinois, will join the commissary agency as the new senior enlisted advisor in early November.
“Chief Allison did a great job serving as a living bridge to our patrons,” said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, DOD special assistant for commissary operations, “helping our military and their families maximize their shopping experience, and in return, relaying their questions and concerns to help DeCA deliver a more relevant benefit. We will surely miss his hard work, dedication and professionalism.”
Serving as the agency’s senior enlisted advisor to the director since June 2014, Allison was DeCA’s uniformed advocate, representing the questions and concerns of the commissary’s enlisted customers and helping the agency raise awareness of the benefit and its savings.
In recognition of his service, and on behalf of Bianchi, Deputy Director Michael J. Dowling presented Allison with the Defense Meritorious Service Medal at DeCA’s Fort Lee headquarters on Sept. 13.
During four years at DeCA, Allison has seen firsthand the commissaries ongoing evolution from an appropriated funding operation to one that focuses more on profit and loss. The transformation was something DeCA had to do to maintain a relevant benefit he said.
“We don’t own many of the core functions – shelf-stocking, transportation, distribution – that put groceries on the shelf,” Allison said. “However, with its ‘can-do’ attitude, the DeCA team finds a way, or makes a way, to deliver an outstanding benefit.
“A lot of people who are worried about the direction of the commissary are still looking at a benefit of 10-20 years ago,” he added. “But to be relevant to today’s patrons and to strengthen the benefit, we have to change, evolve and move forward. If we just let the process work, this benefit will be just fine.”
Throughout his travels with DeCA’s senior leadership, Allison has seen the payback of commissaries maintaining strong, vibrant relationships with the communities they serve. That relationship means it’s important for the agency to always be responsive to its patrons.
“We’ve listened to all our customers’ frustration points with their shopping experiences,” Allison said. “We understand that our patrons want to go to one place to address their grocery needs and go home to their families.
“So having beer and wine in one location, having the Your Everyday Savings (YES) program – so people don’t have to second guess if the commissary benefit is a good deal – these are all the frustrations that people have raised,” he added. “We’ve taken note and we’re moving out aggressively to address them.”
Allison joined DeCA after serving as the superintendent of the 509th Mission Support Group at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. A lot of his time from 2006 to 2014 has been spent on deployment. In 2006, he served four months in Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, as a supply superintendent for the 506th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
From November 2009 to September 2010, Allison was a senior enlisted advisor for the Afghan National Army, Logistics Command, in Kabul, Afghanistan, during Operation Enduring Freedom. For three months in 2012, he served as a squadron superintendent for the 376th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and from July 2013 to January 2014, he served as a superintendent with the 407th Expeditionary Group in Jordan.
He joined the Air Force in 1992 as an inventory management specialist. In addition to his deployments, his career has taken him to Griffiss Air Force Base, New York; Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; Fort Hood, Texas; Kimhae Air Base, South Korea; Sembach Air Base, Germany; Gunter Air Force Base, Alabama; Robins Air Force Base, Georgia; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.
Allison holds a Master of Business Administration degree in military operations from Trident University, Cypress, California, and a Bachelor of Science in logistics management from Bellevue University, Bellevue, Nebraska.
As he heads back overseas, Allison said he wants to remind service members and their families just how significant the commissary benefit is to their well-being.
“This is a great benefit,” he said. “For the majority of my career, my wife and I have always focused on saving for our children’s education, providing well for our family, going on nice vacations, holidays, etc. However, if we didn’t maximize our commissary savings, these things wouldn’t have been possible.”
For photos of Chief Allison, go to DeCA’s Flickr page.
-- By Kevin L. Robinson, DeCA public affairs specialist
About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.