Can Veterans Shop at the Commissary?

(Defense Commissary Agency)
(Defense Commissary Agency)

Dear Q&B,

I'm a veteran and want to shop at the commissary. What do I need?

Sincerely, Honorable Discharge

Dear Honorable,

Sadly, for veterans to shop at the commissary, they have to be more than "just" veterans.

Unfortunately, the commissary benefit is very similar to a lot of other military benefits, including exchange privileges. Only active-duty service members, Guard and reservists, medical retirees, retirees, Gold Star widows, veterans 100 percent disabled due to service, Medal of Honor recipients and all of their respective dependents are granted commissary access.

Everyone else? Not allowed ... for now. 

Commissary 101: How to Shop at the Commissary

But what happens if you are ruled 100 percent disabled due to military service by the Veterans Affairs administration (VA) long after you've left the military? You don't have an ID that says you can use the commissary. So how do you gain access?

Easy: When you are ruled 100 percent disabled due to military service, the VA sends you a letter certifying your status. All you have to do is take that letter to a military pass and ID office and you'll be issued an ID card that grants you commissary privileges. You can use this site to help you make an appointment at your nearest ID card office. And what about that "for now" stuff? Thanks to a law passed by Congress in 2018, starting in 2020 new categories of veterans will be able to shop at the commissary, including Purple Heart recipients, former Prisoners of War and veterans with any service-connected disability rating. Those users will need to pay an additional surcharge that has yet to be announced. 

Sincerely, Team Q&B

-- Do you have a question about your benefits? Email the Questions and Benefits team at

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