Base commissary privileges extended to more veterans, caregivers

COMMISSARY: Volunteers from the Submarine Squadron 15 Family Readiness Group hold a donation drive at the Orote Commissary at Naval Base Guam in support of a local animal shelter in 2017. Photo courtesy of the Navy 

Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, a new law would allow Purple Heart and other military veterans access to commissary stores on military bases, including on Guam.

The law called the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act, became law as part of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

The federal law states access to commissary stores and base recreational facilities will be extended to:

• Purple Heart veterans;

• Medal of Honor recipients;

• veterans who are former prisoners of war;

• veterans with service-connected disabilities;

• eligible caregivers for veterans.

“A caregiver or family caregiver shall be permitted to use commissary stores and (Morale, Welfare and Recreation) facilities on the same basis as a member of the armed forces entitled to retired or retainer pay," the law states.

The Department of Defense will issue regulations that impose a user fee on individuals who are eligible solely under this section to purchase merchandise at a commissary store or MWR retail facility, the law states.

Over the weekend, Del. Michael San Nicolas posted a response that this law applies to Guam. He was asked about it on social media.

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz and Arkansas Republican Sen. John Boozman introduced the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018. It became law on Aug. 13, 2018.

“If you have the Purple Heart, you should also have access to the commissary. It’s as simple as that,” the Hawaii senator said when he introduced the legislation last year.

“Expanding the commissary privilege is a small way that we can show our appreciation to this special and deserving group of veterans,” Boozman said in a joint statement with the Hawaii senator. “This will help them and their caregivers save money and support the commissary and exchange programs.”

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