Expanded patronage: On Jan. 1, commissaries welcome home select veterans to their new shopping privileges

By Keith Desbois,
DeCA public affairs specialist

Note: Go to DeCA’s YouTube page for a video related to expanded patronage:

FORT LEE, Va. – 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 worldwide.

“I want to be one of the first to welcome home this group of veterans to their commissary,” said retired Rear Adm. Robert J. Bianchi, DOD special assistant for commissary operations. “Whether they shopped at the commissary when they were on active duty, or are first-time shoppers, we are sure they will enjoy the savings and excellent customer experience associated with this benefit.”

The newly eligible customers, about 3 million in all, will also be able to shop the military exchanges and use certain morale, welfare and recreation activities. The expanded privileges and access are the result of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Homeland Security (the expansion also applies to Coast Guard facilities) have partnered to make the expansion possible. Details of eligibility and military installation access follow:

• Disabled and other eligible veterans: The Veteran Health Identification card (VHIC), with “Purple Heart,” “Former POW” or “Service Connected” printed on the front, will be required for access into the installation and entry to the stores.

• Caregivers: The benefit applies to the approved and designated primary family caregiver of service-connected disabled veterans who are registered in the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers to receive shopping privileges. Visit the VA’s caregiver page for more information. Beginning in November, the VA will start sending memos for caregivers to be used for access at the front gate, along with a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or other approved government-issued photo ID.

“Our new patrons have earned this benefit through their service and subsequent personal sacrifice to our nation or by caring for a veteran with a service-connected disability,” Bianchi said. “We are honored to open our doors to these heroes and eligible caregivers.”

For more information on this new program, go to, or to determine eligibility, visit a local VA medical facility; call 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., Eastern time or apply online at

About DeCA: The Defense Commissary Agency operates a worldwide chain of commissaries providing groceries to military personnel, retirees and their families in a safe and secure shopping environment. Commissaries provide a military benefit, saving authorized patrons thousands of dollars annually on their purchases compared to similar products at commercial retailers. The discounted prices include a 5-percent surcharge, which covers the costs of building new commissaries and modernizing existing ones. A core military family support element, and a valued part of military pay and benefits, commissaries contribute to family readiness, enhance the quality of life for America’s military and their families, and help recruit and retain the best and brightest men and women to serve their country.

Date Taken: 11.14.2019
Date Posted: 11.14.2019 13:51
Story ID: 351761
Location: FORT LEE, VA, US 

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DISCLAIMER: This article was originally published at the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System Hub ( The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.

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