More veterans granted access to military base shopping, facilities at Patrick Air Force Base


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More of those who served in the military will now have access to additional privileges at bases such as Patrick Air Force Base.

There have been previous efforts to extend the eligibility for more veterans to use base commissaries, exchanges and other facilities. But, until now, there have been few changes.

Now, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and veterans with service-connected disability ratings will be among those, who beginning Jan. 1, will be able to shop at the military bases and use recreation facilities. It also includes designated and approved disabled veterans’ primary caregivers.

I would have thought that some of these veterans would already have had access to the benefits of shopping on base and using certain facilities.

It was only after the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act advocated for more of those who served that things began to change to include more veterans.

Before the newly eligible veterans, those who had the privilege of the benefits included active duty military, Guard and Reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients and veterans with 100 percent disability rating.

The new designation adds millions more veterans who will be eligible to use those base and military installation facilities.

The new law gives the veterans access to Base Exchange stores, commissary and recreation facilities. In addition to the shopping privileges they also will have access to restaurants, marinas, bowling centers and clubs.

The newly eligible veterans will have to make sure they have the proper identification from the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs with the designations such as service-connected disability.

Everyone granted access to bases must undergo background checks and are subject to random searches of their vehicles.

Veterans will no doubt have questions about access and identification needed. My recommendation is to check with the base you intend to use. For PAFB, go to patrick.af.mil/Resources/Commissary-Exchange-and-MWR-Access-for-Veterans/Know-Before-You-Go/. Check with the commissary at commissaries.com/Expanding-Access and with Base exchange at publicaffairs-sme.com/Community/veterans.