All service-connected disabled veterans can now shop at commissaries

Kaylah Jackson
November 14, 2019 - 1:29 pm
Commissary priveledges extended to disabled veterans per Department of Defense

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Joshua Hammond)

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Over 4.1 million individuals including disabled veterans and Purple Heart recipients can now happily shop at military commissaries thanks to a recent Defense Department change.

On Jan. 1, 2020, access to commissaries, morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR), and military exchanges will be extended to four different groups of individuals, the Pentagon announced this week.

  • All veterans with service-connected disabilities
  • Purple Heart recipients
  • Former POWs
  • Approved and designated primary family caregivers of eligible veterans

"These new privileges recognize the service and sacrifice of these veterans and those that care for them," said A.T. Johnston, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy.

The expansion of the commissary was included in the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Previously, access was limited to military retirees and their dependents, active-duty and National Guard and reserve members.

This announcement comes with a bit of a caveat. Veterans who are not enrolled or are not eligible to enroll in VA healthcare, cannot use this benefit.

To access these installations, veterans will need their Veteran Health Identification Card from VA.  The newly released Veterans Identification Card (VIC), however, is not an acceptable form of ID to use these new, expanded privileges, according to DoD.  

VA announced in 2018, the Veterans ID card was introduced for veterans to use to obtain benefits and privileges, preventing them from having to carry their DD214 on their person.

Connecting Vets reported last year, during the initial rollout of the ID cards, VA faced challenges with timely delivery to veterans who were using the website to receive them. According to Military.com, VA said it could take “six months” for veterans to receive their ID cards.

For more information regarding expanded access to military commissaries, visit Military One Source.

For information on the different types of ID cards, visit this VA website.

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