In 2020, commissary shopping benefits expanded to include more Veterans, as the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 (part of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019) authorized the Department of Defense to expand access to commissary shopping privileges to additional valued members of the military community.
The law, which took effect January 1, 2020, extends commissary shopping privileges to:
- Veterans with any VA-documented service-connected disabilities;
- Purple Heart recipients;
- Former prisoners of war; and
- Individuals assessed, approved and designated as primary family caregivers to eligible Veterans under VA’s Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers.
Veterans and designated caregivers are encouraged to check their commissary privilege qualifications.
Obtaining the proper identification
Obtain a Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) and ensure it reflects eligibility through one of the required designations: SERVICE CONNECTED, MEDAL OF HONOR, PURPLE HEART or FORMER POW. The card and designation will be required during the commissary check-out process.
Find out more about how to obtain a VHIC here.
Checking installation access policies
Contact the commissary’s installation and ask about current installation access policies.
Checking for “user” fees before paying
The law expanding commissary access also requires charging user fees when shoppers pay for purchases with commercial credit or debit cards. This fee imposes an additional 1.9% for credit cards and 0.5% for debit cards with a PIN. (The 1.9% fee also applies when using a signature debit card, because it is processed as a credit card transaction.)
Shoppers will not be subject to user fees if paying with the MILITARY STAR® card, cash or EBT. Learn more about the MILITARY STAR® card here.
Enjoying commissary benefits, value
Commissaries serve shoppers who have served our Nation by selling groceries and household products to authorized customers at a substantial cost savings. Commissary benefits include:
- A shopping environment exclusively serving the military community with a workforce that understands shopper needs.
- Prices saving customers thousands of dollars per year, on average, when compared to commercial store prices.
- Commissary Store Brands offering quality products on par with national brands and even greater savings.
- Convenience of using CLICK2GO for online shopping and curbside pickup.
- Additional savings through digital coupons and promotional sales flyers.
The commissary is here to serve those who have served our Nation. For more information, visit Your Commissary.