Beginning in 2020, service-connected disabled Veterans and their caregivers will be eligible to use base Commissary stores and Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities. We’re excited that more members of our nation’s military are becoming eligible to enjoy the Commissary benefit and we hope that our new patrons will truly enjoy the value of the Commissary. This webpage is intended to help you learn more about this change to Commissary shopper eligibility and help readers continue to stay informed.
Expanding the Benefit – Veterans Newly Eligible for Commissary Shopping Privileges
As of January 1st, 2020, approximatley 3 million service-connected veterans will become eligible to shop in-store at Commissaries and Exchanges, enabling access to the great value and tax-free purchasing power that they offer their customers. This means that any Veteran with a VA disability rating will be enabled to enjoy the Commissary benefit, as well as use a number of on-base MWR facilities, according to the Department of Defense. These newly eligible Veterans must have a Veterans Health Identification Card to secure access, which can be applied for and acquired through the VA. More information on the VHIC and application process is available here: https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/
The following are now able to take advantage of tax-free shopping and Military Exclusive offers at Commissary locations:
- Purple Heart Recipients
- Former prisoners of war
- All Veterans with a service connected disabilty rating
- Those registered with the DoD as Primary Caregivers to a Veteran
For new shoppers gaining Commissary privledges under this act, a surcharge of five percent will be applied to their purchases made with a credit or debit card. However, patrons using cash, check or their Military Star Card can avoid this surcharge altogether.
The Commissary Value - "It's Worth The Trip!"
Many states continue to charge a tax on groceries, making this benefit even more valuable in locations such as Mississippi or Alabama. Additionally, overall Commissary savings are periodically measured against traditional outside retailers, building confidense in the value of the benefit. The below calculations included applicable sales tax in commercial grocery stores as well as the 5% surchage applied at Commissary stores. A link to the origonal source material is available below the chart.
|Commissary region||Jan-March savings compared
to civilian stores
|Global weighted average||25.7%|
The above chart was taken from a May 2019 MilitaryTimes article by Karen Jowers, which can be viewed here: https://www.militarytimes.com/pay-benefits/2019/05/17/have-you-shopped-at-your-commissary-lately-savings-are-up-and-more-plans-are-in-the-works/
This is an exciting time for all of us, as it’s the largest expansion of eligible Commissary shoppers in over 60 years. We hope that the newly eligible with take time to visit their nearby Commissaries and enjoy the value that is now available to them. We beleive you'll find our products in store to be wholesome, healthy options for your family at a retail price that allows you to feel good about your purchase. Stay tuned for further information as we look to increase awareness, further enhance the value of the Commissary benefit and be a positive resource for those looking for more information. We encourage you to reach out to us via Twitter, Facebook or e-mail if you'd like to engage with us about the Commissary benefit or our fresh produce offering. Please let us know if you have questions, suggestions or any other feedback you may wish to express. We’re here for you and ready to listen.
MilitaryTimes.com has run a series of articles highlighting important elements of the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act” and its impact on the Veteran community. We’ve found their continued reporting to be an informative and timely collection of information. Below are three articles written by Karen Jowers that discuss the benefit expansion and offer guidance for the newly eligible. Learn more about the publication and visit their webpage here: https://www.militarytimes.com/about-us/
- An overview article from July 22nd, 2019 is linked below. Key components relate to updated Veteran & Caregiver eligibility, Identification card requirements for access and applicable point of sale surcharges at the Commissary. Read more here: Here’s how 3 million more people will get military shopping benefits: https://bit.ly/2NrfxYi
- This article was published on August 19th, 2019 providing information related to the Veterans Health Identification Card and offering some further guidance on how to apply. If these questions are relevant to you, this may be a great starting point: Millions more will soon be allowed to shop on military bases. But some veterans wonder how they’ll get access. https://bit.ly/2Nplp4e
- Additionally, more information was published on October 21st offering further guidance on installation access for newly eligible patrons. We thought this was great news, as it announced that many installations had already rolled out the technology to enable Veterans Health Identification Cards to be scanned at installation access checkpoints. Read more here: More questions answered as installations get ready for the potential 3 million extra shoppers: https://bit.ly/2JsXDmU
More information available from the following:
Official John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act For Fiscal Year 2019: https://www.congress.gov/115/plaws/publ232/PLAW-115publ232.pdf
https://www.va.gov/ is a fantastic resource for all things related to Veterans health care. They also have a VHIC application link with telephone contact information available here: https://www.va.gov/health-care/how-to-apply/
The official benefits website for the U.S. Government: https://www.benefits.gov/
For a list of Commissary locations or to find a store near you: https://www.commissaries.com/
Official Military Star Card website: https://www.myecp.com/
Follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MilitaryProduceGroup/ and Twitter @MilitaryProduce for updates and information.