Breaking update directly from the Department of Veterans Affairs!
- The National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, Section 621, provides expanded access to military installations for specific Veterans and caregivers so they may utilize certain morale, welfare and recreation privileges (MWR) to include base exchanges and commissaries beginning January 1, 2020.
- Specifically, Veterans who are former prisoners of war, recipients of the Purple Heart or those with a disability rating from 0 to 90 percent are now eligible. Note: Veterans with a 100% disability or those awarded individual unemployability are already eligible. Additionally, a caregiver or family caregiver who is enrolled as a Veteran’s primary caregiver in the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers is also eligible for these MWR privileges.
- Veterans who are eligible under this new law must present a Veterans Health Identification Card issued from VA for DoD and Coast Guard installation and privilege access. In other words, Veterans will need to be enrolled for VA healthcare unless they already have access such as a military retiree or 100% disabled Veteran with a DoD issued identification card. Eligible caregivers will have to present a primary caregiver letter from VA for DoD and Coast Guard installation and privilege access.
- DoD is currently completing an impact assessment on increases in visitation and shopping traffic to military installations. It is also possible VA may see an increase in disability claims filed by individuals wanting to obtain this access. As soon as DoD completes its assessment, we will share the results with you.
- Please ensure your employees, particularly those involved in public facing activities, are aware of this impending change to DoD and DHS policy. The Office of Field Operations’ Benefits Assistance Service has completed call center scripting. Additionally, frequently asked questions will be shared when available, and a website within VA’s web domain will be created to house additional relevant information.
- Should you have any questions regarding this letter, please contact Mike Carr, Deputy Director, Office of Field Operations-Benefits Assistance Service at (202) 530 9416 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.