Defense officials have told lawmakers they would support language in the House version of the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill opening on-base shopping at commissaries and exchanges to disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients and caregivers of severely injured veterans if those groups were assessed an additional 5 percent surcharge at commissaries. The change would benefit deserving veterans who live near military bases and bolster the military resale system, reports Stars and Stripes. DOD previously opposed extending shopping privileges but a long-term decline in commissary sales and the need to trim the federal subsidy for commissaries have changed its stance.
The department now “recognizes that a large influx of new patrons is necessary to continue efficiently providing commissary and exchange benefits into the future. Similar to the [new] retirement option, offering lifetime commissary and exchange benefits to veterans will help attract younger generations to military service,” a DOD study released last year concluded.
A House-Senate conference now will decide whether the provision in the House bill, added through a floor amendment from Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), makes it into the final version of the annual policy measure.
Photo by Tammy Reed