3 million caregivers, wounded warriors will soon get to shop at commissaries

Shopper at commissary
Photo credit Defense Commissary Agency

Commissaries and Exchanges are preparing to welcome 3 million new customers on Jan. 1, 2020.

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 authorizes Purple Heart recipients, all service-disabled veterans, those who have been prisoners of war and primary caregivers of veterans to shop at military facilities.  

According to Department of Defense officials, military stores haven’t experienced this large of an eligible shopper expansion in six decades. The expanded benefit also applies to Morale, Welfare & Recreation programs that are “revenue-generating facilities,” according to the bill.

The Defense Department, Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security have been planning for the expansion for more than six months, reports the Military Times. 

Shopper at commissary
Before the new benefit goes into effect a policy needs to be created to allow individuals onto military bases. Defense Department officials said disabled and other eligible veterans will use their veterans health ID card to access the facilities. The VA is expected to post a memo to VA.gov for caregivers in October for military installation access at the front gate. That is expected to eventually change over to a caregiver ID card with scanning swipe capability, according to DoD officials. 

The new shoppers will also be charged to use their credit cards in commissaries but can avoid the additional fee by using cash, check or Military Star cards.  The fee applies only at commissaries and does not apply to Medal of Honor recipients or those who were previously authorized to shop there. DoD officials said the amount of the fee has yet to be determined.

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