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Eligible veterans can access post commissary, exchange, programs starting in January

Chief Master Sgt. Stuart Allison, DeCA senior enlisted advisor, was the first to swipe a MILITARY STAR card at the commissary during a rollout ceremony at Oct. 5 at Fort Lee. Acceptance of the card is being expanded to commissaries around the world. (Julie Mitchell/Army & Air Force Exchange Service HQ)

Access to shop post commissaries and exchanges or access post recreation will expand to certain veterans by Jan. 1, officials said.

The Department of Defense is expanding on access authorized by the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018, officials said.

The expanded access will include: Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, veterans with documented service-connected disabilities 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.

Officials said eligible veterans will need a Veteran Health Identification Card, meaning they should be enrolled with VA healthcare services to obtain the card.

Although eligible veterans will not be able to shop at post commissaries and exchanges on installations without the card, they will be able to shop online.

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Officials estimate the expansion will extend to more than 4.1 million new patrons, but little impact is expected for current 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. Please help us ensure these veterans and caregivers receive the privileges they’ve been granted.”

Officials said that a small user fee will be charged to those using commercial credit or debit cards for purchases at commissary stores to offset expenses incurred by the Department of Treasury for processing the cards .

The expansion also will allow eligible veterans to enjoy certain Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs on post, including golf courses, bowling centers, movie theaters, recreational lodging and more.

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© 2019 The Fayetteville Observer