New Law Paves the Way for Millions to Get Commissary and Exchange Benefits

Starting January 1st, 2020, roughly 3 million more people will get commissary and exchange benefits. This will include all service-connected disabled Veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and primary Veteran caregivers. Federal officials determined earlier this year that Veterans would use their Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) in order to get access to DoD and Coast Guard installations, and to shop at commissaries, exchanges and use certain morale, welfare, and recreation facilities.

Previously only Veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings were authorized for shopping and MWR privileges. The new law now allows all those with service-connected disability ratings, including 0%, to have the same privileges. Paving the way for 3 million more people will get commissary and exchange benefits.

During the first visit to the installation, eligible Veterans and caregivers must stop at the visitor control center. Depending on the type of installation and the credential presented, the Veteran and caregivers may be enrolled for recurring access, so they wouldn’t have to stop at the visitor control center each time they visited in the future. Eligible Veterans must bring a driver’s license, Veterans health I.D card, proof of insurance, and vehicle registration when applying at the visitor’s center. To apply, visit the VA healthcare benefits website, or call 877-222-8387. You can also visit your nearest VA health care facility.


Q. Where do I get information on the locations of exchanges?

For the Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores, visit and click “Find a store.”

For Coast Guard Exchange stores, Marine Corps Exchange stores, and Navy Exchange stores, visit

What If I need Help?

Filing a claim with the VA can be stressful and confusing. Veterans Guardian VA Claim Consulting can support you in filing a VA claim. Our team will guide you through the paperwork and prepare you for a meeting with the VA’s representatives, so there aren’t any surprises when the time comes. Fill out this form for a free consultation.

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