Commissary access expanded for eligible veterans

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Beginning Jan. 1, changes kicked in for Commissary access for select groups of military veterans. The Defense Department announced that Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and veterans with any service-connected disability will be eligible to shop at military facilities if they hold a Veterans Health Identification Card.

Veterans use VHICs for identification and check-in at VA appointments, but will also use them for base access under the new program.

Officials say access may still be delayed for those who do not have a VHIC, as facilities brace for what could be millions of new shoppers.

The access includes the commissary, Exchange stores and the MWR.

The new program will happen in two phases—the first group will be veterans with a VHIC that displays their status. Veterans without the health insurance card will be in the second group.

Medal of Honor recipients and Veterans with 100 percent service-connected disability ratings are eligible for DoD credentials under DoD policy.

How to get a VHIC

Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive a VHIC.  To enroll, you can complete an application for enrollment in VA health care by telephone without the need for a signed paper application. Just call 1-877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern. You can also apply for VA healthcare benefits online at www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll, or in person at your local VA medical facility.  Once your enrollment is verified, you can have your picture taken at your local VA medical center, and VA will mail you a VHIC.

ID needed to get VHIC

To ensure a Veteran’s identity, enrollees must provide one form of primary identification when requesting a VHIC. Acceptable forms of primary identification are:

• Primary Identification (Unexpired)

• State-Issued Driver’s License

• United States Passport or Passport Card

• Other Government ID