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NEWS | Dec. 30, 2019

Expanded access for qualified veterans and family members

By U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs 633d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Defense Department has announced expanded commissary,
Military Service Exchange and MWR access beginning Jan. 1, 2020, and
established a standard for physical access to military installations.

Veterans and primary family caregivers who are eligible and want to take
advantage of in-person benefits must have a Veterans Health Identification
Card, or VHIC. Primary family caregivers must have an eligibility letter
from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Community Care.

Veterans currently use VHICs for identification and check-in at VA
appointments, but will also use them for base access under the new program.

Veterans eligible solely under this act who are eligible to obtain a VHIC
must use this credential for in-person installation and privilege access.
The card must display the veteran's eligibility status (e.g., Purple Heart,
former prisoner of war or military-service connected).

Veterans eligible solely under this act who are not enrolled in or are not
eligible to enroll in VA health care, or who are enrolled in VA health care,
but do not possess a VHIC will not have access to DoD and Coast Guard
installations for in person commissary, exchange and MWR retail privileges,
but will have full access to online exchanges and American Forces Travel.

Medal of Honor recipients and veterans with 100% service-connected
disability ratings are eligible for DoD credentials under DoD policy.

How to get a VHIC

Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive a VHIC. To
enroll, complete an application for enrollment in VA health care by
telephone without the need for a signed-paper application. Just call
877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. EST.
Veterans can also apply for VA healthcare benefits online at, or in person at a local VA medical
facility. Once enrollment is verified, veterans can have their picture taken
at their local VA medical center, and VA will mail the VHIC.

ID needed to get a VHIC

To ensure a veteran's identity, enrollees must provide one form of primary
identification when requesting a VHIC.
Acceptable forms of primary identification are:
State-issued driver's license
U.S. passport or passport card
Other government ID

This ID can be issued by federal, state or local government agencies
provided it contains a photograph, name, date of birth and address. If the
address is not on the proofing document, veterans can provide separate
documentation to confirm their address. Acceptable address documents
Electric bill
Cable bill
Other mailing document
Voter Registration card

How long does it take?

Once the picture is taken, veterans should receive their VHIC within 10
days. If they have any questions, veterans should contact their local VA
medical facility where they receive care or call 877-222-VETS (8387).

The VHIC provides:

Increased security for personal information - no personally identifiable
information contained on the magnetic stripe or barcode.
Unique member identifier - Department of Defense assigns an electronic data
interchange personal identifier that allows VA to retrieve the veteran's
health record.
A salute to military service - The emblem of the veteran's latest branch of
service is displayed on the card. Several special awards will also be
Accessibility - Braille "VA" helps visually impaired veterans to recognize
and use the card.
Anti-counterfeiting - Microtext helps prevent reproductions.

Lost or stolen?

If the VHIC is lost or stolen, contact the VA medical facility where the
picture was taken to request a new card, or call 877- 222-VETS (8387).
Veterans will need to provide identification information when reporting lost
or stolen cards.


Eligible caregivers will receive an eligibility letter from VA's Office of
Community Care. If a primary family caregiver under the PCAFC loses their eligibility
letter, please call 877-733-7927 to request a replacement. Please allow two
weeks for processing.

For installation access, entry to some commissary stores and at point of
sale at commissaries, exchanges, and MWR retail facilities, eligible
caregivers will need to show an acceptable credential along with their
eligibility letter. Acceptable credentials may include:
DoD common access card (when otherwise eligible)
DoD uniformed services identification card (when otherwise eligible)
REAL ID-compliant driver's license issued by a state, territory, possession,
or the District of Columbia
REAL ID-compliant non-driver's identification card issued by a state,
territory, possession, or the District of Columbia
Enhanced driver's license issued by a state, territory, possession, or the
District of Columbia
U.S. passport or passport card
Foreign passport bearing an unexpired immigrant or non-immigrant visa or
entry stamp
Federal personal identity verification card (when otherwise eligible)
Transportation Worker Identification Card

First visit

Upon the first visit to an installation, eligible veterans and caregivers
must stop at the visitor control center. Depending on the type of
installation, veterans may enroll for recurring access, which allows them to
proceed to the gate for entry upon subsequent visits without having to stop
again at the visitor control center.

As with all other individuals seeking access to DoD installations, all
eligible veterans must pass a basic on-the-spot background check prior to
enrolling and an automated check each time they enter the installation.
Veterans with felony convictions, felony arrest warrants, or other types of
derogatory information related to criminal history or terrorism will not be
permitted entry.