Starting Jan. 1, all service-connected disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and primary veteran caregivers will be eligible to shop at commissaries and exchanges. 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.

A fact sheet posted  MilitaryOneSource.com states, ”On Jan. 1, 2020, only veterans with a secure, scannable VA-issued VHIC will be authorized access to in-person commissary, military exchange and morale, welfare and recreation privileges on DoD and Coast Guard installations.”

It notes that when DoD and VA identify a credentialing solution for all veterans eligible under the law, DoD “will roll out a new phase of access to accommodate current veterans who are not eligible to obtain a VHIC but are eligible for these privileges.”

Previously only veterans with 100 percent service-connected disability ratings were authorized shopping and MWR privileges. The new law now allows all those with service-connected disability ratings, including 0 percent, to have those privileges.

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.

FAQ

Q. Where do I get information on locations of commissaries?

A. Click here.

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

Those are the Army and Air Force Exchange Service stores, www.shopmyexchange.com and click “Find a store”; Coast Guard Exchange stores, ; Marine Corps Exchange stores, and Navy Exchange stores, https://www.mynavyexchange.com/storelocator/storesearch.jsp.