Base commissary, exchange restrictions come under fire anew

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Veterans advocate and veterans commission member Johnny "Atulai" Taitano said the restrictions can be considered discrimination against local vets who have fought for our nation's freedoms.

A local veteran and his wife are disappointed over continued restrictions to military facilities on island.

Veterans advocate and veterans commission member Johnny “Atulai” Taitano said the restrictions can be considered discrimination against local vets who have fought for our nation’s freedoms.

They served our country and placed their lives on the line in combat, but a number of veterans feel that none of that matters because they are being restricted access to Naval Base Guam and Andersen Airforce base. Veterans advocate and veteran commission member Johnny “Atulai” Taitano says something’s got to be done.

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“What is happening on the base? I have been going to the commissary longer than the Admiral’s been alive. And I’ve yet to meet him. But I think he was terribly advised by his subordinates. To me the manager of the commissary should be fired,” Taitano said.

He stresses that Guam is unique, things are done differently here, and patriotism is high.

He suggests opening the exchange and commissary to veterans and their families daily or restrict access on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Johnny Atulai sits on the Veterans Commission and reports that Commissioner Brian Miranda had an audience with Rear Admiral John Menoni. The discussion raised concerns about discrimination.

“To CHamorus in particular. He said three people vets were so irate and so out of control they were banned from the base for life. Normally, CHamorus are very respectful and very cordial until they get stepped on and tend to fight back,” Taitano said.

Joint Region Marianas Spokesperson Lt. Commander Richard Moore says Johnny Atulai’s assertion is inaccurate.

“The three individuals received 30-day temporary administrative action as a result of interactions with Naval Base Guam personnel.”

Johnny Atulai calls the judgment he believed was handed down on the three vets a mistake, pointing towards the patriotism Guamanians are known for.

“I, myself, have six grandsons in every branch of the military except the Navy and Marine Corps. And to be treated like this, the only word I can say is discrimination,” Taitano said.

His wife, Bobbie, understands that some restrictions must be in place but she said only allowing a two-hour window for veterans on the weekends makes things tough for vets who are also our island’s manamko.

“If they think that we are going to finish everything in the commissary that’s really, really not true. There’s enough in there for everybody to go in there and shop for their necessities. But to just give us those two hours … our opportunity to go into the commissary from 10 am to 12 noon … and you know these are senior citizens over 60 and above … and to stand in line in the hot sun or even when its raining is really uncalled for,” she said.

The Taitanos hope that the restrictions in place at the military installations are reconsidered and a move toward expanding veterans and their families’ access to base exchanges and commissaries is granted.

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Jolene Toves
Jolene joined the PNC team in 2017, as a producer, co-anchor and investigative reporter covering law enforcement, courts and crimes. Notable coverage includes the Ehlert case, the Mark Torre Jr. trial, the Allan Agababa trial, exclusive pieces on the Life of a Drug Dealer/Addict, and Life behind bars...the story of Honofre Chargualaf and Kevin Cruz. In 2019, she was promoted to Assistant News Director and Lead Anchor. From 2015 to 2017 she served as Public Relations and Promotions Manager, for the Hotel Nikko Guam handling local radio and advertorial promotions, as well as produced and directed tv commercials for the hotel. Prior to this she worked with KUAM for three years as a reporter and segment host. She began her journalism career in 2012, working with Glimpses of Guam contributing to the Guam Business Magazine, R&R magazine, MDM magazine and the Marianas Business Journal.