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Can Veterans Shop At The Navy Exchange?

The United States Navy operates a retail outlet called the Navy Exchange (NEX). It provides products and services to active-duty military people, their families, and veterans. While the NEX does extend some discounts to veterans, there are some restrictions on what veterans can purchase.

Veterans with a disability rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be eligible for privileges at Department of Defense and Coast Guard commissaries, exchange, and MWR retail stores starting January 1, 2020, under the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018.

We will discuss the eligibility of veterans to shop at the NEX and what discounts they are entitled to. We hope this information is helpful and answered any questions you may have about shopping at the Navy Exchange!

What is the Navy Exchange?

The United States Navy owns and operates the Navy Exchange (NEX) retail outlet chain. It was created in 1946 to provide U.S. Navy personnel and their families with reasonably priced quality goods and services. The NEX offers a wide variety of products and services, including clothing, cosmetics, electronics, home furnishings, and automotive supplies.

Today’s NEX and ship stores are nothing like their predecessors of 200 years ago. NEX has changed significantly since its humble beginnings in the 1800s when bumboats would sell goods to sailors aboard naval vessels. In the past, sailors could only rely on boats that were often unreliable to transport their belongings while sailing. U.S. Navy ships exchanged money with bumboats —small vessels that pulled alongside the ship —by lowering pails over the side of the ship for the crew to receive merchandise. These bumboats became known as “pay boats.”

Can Veterans Use the Military Exchange?

Veterans with a Veteran Health ID Card can shop at Military Exchange stores, Commissaries, and MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) facilities. Navy installations are prepared to support authorized veterans and their caregivers, who will be able to shop at base commissaries and exchanges and participate in certain Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs. Veterans with a verified service-connected disability from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war (POW), and Medal of Honor recipients will be eligible for the increased benefit beginning January 1, 2020.


What is the Navy Exchange Benefit for Veterans?

The Navy Exchange benefit for veterans expands shopping and recreation privileges to include veterans with a service-connected disability, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and veterans who are receiving care at a VA facility. This benefit will go into effect on January 1, 2020.

Navy Exchange stores offer active duty military, retirees, reservists, and their families quality merchandise at low prices. Clothing, cosmetics, electronics, and home furnishings are just some of the products and services available at navy bases’ department stores. In addition to these department store chains, many navy base exchanges also have fast food restaurants, beauty salons, barber shops, and gas stations on site.

The new Navy Exchange benefit for veterans will allow veterans to shop at any Navy Exchange store as well as department stores, commissaries, and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) facilities on base. This is a massive perk for veterans who previously did not have access to these amenities.

Do All Veterans Get Exchange Privileges?

Veterans honorably discharged with a service-related disability rating of 100 percent and the un-remarried surviving spouses of members or retired members of the armed forces, Medal of Honor recipients, and their dependents and orphans have unlimited exchange store privileges in the United States. The VA is responsible for certifying a veteran’s total disability. This benefit may also be available to reservists and their family. Privileges granted abroad are governed by international law and can only be obtained if the other government approves.

What is the Military Commissary?

The military commissary is a store on a military base that offers discounted prices on food and other household items to service members and their families. Veterans must provide their military ID cards when shopping at a commissary. The Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) operates more than 200 commissaries worldwide. In the United States, veterans with a service-connected disability of 10% or more are eligible for a commissary card, which gives them access to discounted prices.

You can shop at a commissary if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) pays its marine employees and retired marines.
  • Permitted family members
  • Active, reserve, or retired military service members
  • Coast Guard and Department of Defense employees working on service agreements in other countries.
  • Foreign military personnel
  • Individuals who have won the Medal of Honor
  • Veterans with disabilities as a result of their service
  • The Defense Commissary Agency’s hardworking men and women
  • Primary caregivers for veterans enrolled in the Department of Veterans Affairs Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers Program.
  • Those who have received the Purple Heart
  • Veterans who have been held captive as prisoners of war.
  • Full-time employees of non-federal entities who are hired in the United States but assigned to work on a U.S. military installation

To be eligible for commissary privileges, veterans need to show their military ID cards. The following ID cards entitle veterans to shop at a commissary:

Veterans not enrolled in the VA health care system but with a service-connected disability are eligible for the VIC. The SODID is given to wives and dependents of veterans who are registered with the VA health care system. Active duty soldiers, retirees, reservists, and their dependents receive the DoD Uniformed Services or Retired Identification Card. In addition, state-issued veteran ID cards are available in some states for veterans who are not eligible for a federal ID card.

Do Disabled Veterans Get PX Privileges?

Those who have received the Medal of Honor or have a 100% disability rating from the VA is already covered and receiving access to these facilities. The first step for veterans is to obtain their credentials, which include the Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC). The ID card will have Veterans Health Insurance eligibility requirements listed. The Veterans Identification Card, or VIC, is not the same as the VHIC. The only thing a VIC allows veterans to do is shop at stores online. You will still need a VHIC to shop at the PX, commissary, or MWR.

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