VA, DoD go LIVE on expanded commissary, exchange and MWR access

The Defense Department recently announced expanded Commissary, Military Service Exchange and MWR access Jan. 1 and established a standard for physical access to military installations. Earlier today, the DoD and VA held a Facebook LIVE event to discuss implementation of the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 and to answer questions from Veterans and their families.

Here are some of the questions and answers from the event:

The VHIC topic came up several times during the LIVE event.

Learn more about the VHIC requirement and how you can get one here.

Download the Expanded Access at Commissaries, Exchanges and Recreation Facilities fact sheet here.


Reynaldo Leal

– Reynaldo Leal is a public affairs officer for VA’s office of Digital Media Engagement and member for the VAntage Point’s staff. He is a proud Marine Corps Veteran who deployed to the Al Anbar Province with 3rd Battalion 5th Marine Regiment in 2004 and 2006. He also took part in some of the heaviest fighting during Operation Phantom Fury in 2004.


  1. Mike Nelson    

    Thanks Also for the update

  2. Mike Nelson    

    Please What Kind of ID must my kids have if I’m using my VHIC?

  3. Arturo Alvarado    

    Are swimming pools included

  4. Jordan Balolong    

    I’m 70% but my ID just says enrollee and not service-connected. Will I still be able to access these services?

  5. chris mills    

    So, If I volunteered in 1972 and was only 17, I am just a Vietnam Era Vet. Yipee Ki-yah! I don’;t even think there is a bumper sticker for that. I am great full for the Medical benefits thru the VA, But that took me almost 40 years to get that after a emergency visit. Most of us all supported the mission, what ever it was. Many had dangerous jobs, whether in or out country. Many also, have damage or injuries that would never qualify for a disability. Most could have been called at any time to do whatever. Some of us were volunteered for things, we can’t even discuss. But, I can not even buy a beer on base. Seriously!

  6. Lowell E Ebalo    

    A VETERAN IS STILL A VETERAN DISABLED OR NOT. So why cant veterans that have no disability have these privledges?

  7. James R Coulson    

    I am a Vietnam veteran. Many years ago I was diagnosed as PTSD. I also have military Sexual abuse.

    From all information I’ve found when I know longer handle could the mental strain by constantly being shuffled around and conflicting information.

    I’m now in a nursing home. I no longer have most documents. I spent almost six months recently in VA mental health
    Jesse Brown.

    Is there any help to try again.

  8. Frank Yau    

    I am 10% rated disable vet. Does the MWR benefits include Space-A travel domestic and overseas? Thanks,

  9. Jack    

    What are the different of those 100% disable veterans and those with less than 100 service connected veterans. Are all have the same privileges on a military post including MWR facilities and PX/commissary usages.

  10. Winfred A Kennedy    

    Are only 100% service connected veterans eligible. I have 30%.


    I am a Viet Nam Veteran and I have a new VA I.D. Card that says Service Connected under my picture. Will the VA officially notify those Veterans who are eligible to shop at the Exchange and Commisary at Ft. Benning, GA?

  12. Patricia Babcock    

    Hate to say it, as a Retiree as of 2004, the prices are not that great a savings. More often than not the prices are a little high in lower cost of living areas since they are mass priced. But then items going on sale and they are okay. Living in semi-rural USA, where there is only 1 military base (Fort McCoy), a 4 hour drive to the base is not going to happen. Even then when I can buy a T-shirt or hat showing my branch for $9.99 at the community market on Saturday but the VA Shopette wants $3-5 dollars more I don’t see the deals. Many times the technology items are last years or I can go directly to the manufacturer site and get the newest, with their military discount, for less. Sorry Exchanges but I am not a fan. Commissary so-so but I love the MWR & Lodging since the costs are very reasonable and it just feels safer on post.

    1. Bob w.    

      I’m thinking these services are hurting for both customers & money. I remember when when it took either active duty or to be retired to access these areas. I thought it was a privilege for. Now all it seems to take is one enlistment to get those benefits that at one time was a privilege.
      Wondering how those groups are going to feel now that something they thought was for them is being opened to all that may have served one term, (because the military wasn’t for them, or just hated the idea of taking orders etc..) will now have to share something that was only for the selected group.
      Like I mentioned earlier, they must be at a breaking point. Not enough regular customers (allot of the items sold at the base exchange aren’t such a deal – compared to off base stores) except for no sales tax. The commissary, the same – but they do add a surcharge of sort. It’s been 20 years since I’ve been to, maybe things changed.
      I’m not a fan of opening up something to other groups. Maybe I’m thinking that if they had wanted these services they could’ve stayed & Retired (unless retirees aren’t offered access anymore)
      Let’s all hope that there aren’t many disgruntled people who now will have access to a military base to roam about &….. Is this the beginning of another benefit that once was for, that is now becoming to to any.

    2. Gene Jurrens    

      Patricia, it’s been difficult to get specific info on MWR facilities access for non-retirees, even under this new program. Maybe you know. As a 4-year service-connected vet (not a retiree), will I have access to on-base fam-camps (RV parks) nationwide (in US). Wife and I live in a motorhome, and this would be a huge benefit to us. Do you know? Thanks!

  13. Blaine Grauerholz    

    I’m service-connected and have a VHIC card so realize I’m eligible for these privilege’s starting 1-Jan. I have not heard anything about the use of gymnasiums on the installations?

  14. Michael Alan Crothers    

    My ID says “Service Connected” can my wife accompany me when I go to use these facilities?

  15. Richard Sellers    

    My question is the answer given to Juan Vasquez. He asked if there were limitation to what Veterans could purchase. The reply was no limitations. I heard Veterans would not be able to purchase alcohol or cigarettes.

    [Editor: DoD confirmed Class Six is available. No limitations.]

  16. Doug    

    Do veterans have access to Class Six stores with this new benefit?

    [Editor: Yes!]

  17. Steven T Collins    

    I have a 80% va rating, i dont have a purple heart, or i wasnt a pow, do i still get to use the commissary. And are the gyms also included?

    1. Doug    

      Fitness centers are not included.

    2. Fredrick Neal Rehders    

      You may want to ask that 80% question, again. I read 100%, but I am no expert!

  18. Mercy Terry    

    What type of ID must my kids have if I’m using my VHIC?

  19. Kinglee    

    Thanks for this great update shared. But i have a question, How does a Veterans get a new VHIC card when they have the old card?

  20. Douglas Duffett40    

    Will my wife also have access?
    Will the ID card help me get on post?

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