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Commissaries, Military Exchanges, Recreation Facilities access expands to veterans, caregivers

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Starting Jan. 1, 2020, access will expand to include all veterans with service-connected disabilities, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregivers of eligible veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. (Courtesy)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --

The Department of Defense is expanding commissary, military exchange, and morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) retail privileges on U.S. military installations - specified in the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018, included in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, access will expand to include all veterans with service-connected disabilities, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and individuals approved and designated as the primary family caregivers of eligible veterans under the Department of Veterans Affairs Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.

While this expansion will extend eligibility to over 4.1 million new patrons, the DOD expects little-to-no impact on current patrons in most locations.

There may be some impact in areas with a high cost of living, but the DOD is preparing to accommodate new patrons.

"These new privileges recognize the service and sacrifice of these veterans and those that care for them," said A.T. Johnston, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Military Community and Family Policy.

"If you or someone you know might be eligible for these privileges, share the message," said Johnston. "Help us ensure these veterans and caregivers receive the privileges they've been granted."

New patrons eligible solely under this authority should be aware that the law requires the DOD to charge them a small user fee to offset the increased expense incurred by the Department of the Treasury for processing commercial credit or debit cards used for purchases at commissary stores.

The DOD is finalizing the details for these new privileges with the Departments of VA, Homeland Security and the Treasury.

Information will be announced regarding installation access and the authentication process for these privileges.

To learn more about the commissary, military exchange and MWR expansion, visit https://download.militaryonesource.mil/12038/MOS/Factsheets/expanding-access-fact-sheet.pdf.

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