Pentagon Seeks Expanded Exchange, Commissary Eligibility

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Washington Report

The Defense Department wants Congress to greatly expand eligibility for shopping in on-base exchanges and commissaries, Military Times reported. Officials have asked Congress to let all veterans and civilian employees use the stores.

Stephanie Barna, the special assistant to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, spoke last week at a forum on Capitol Hill of the American Logistics Association.

The benefit would require a user fee of between 1 and 5 percent for what are the non-core groups of shoppers, she said, “but we think they’d still be getting an incredible deal.”

She does not expect this change to occur this year, but promised that the idea would be pursued.

“It’s something that’s very important to us, and it’s something I think ultimately we will achieve,” she said.

A policy change could allow an estimated 18 million veterans to enjoy the less expensive shopping. It would, of course, mostly benefit those who live near a base.

Currently, shopping at the stores is restricted to active-component members, National Guard and Reserve members, military retirees and a few other groups, as well as their families.

In 2017, all honorably discharged veterans received the privilege of shopping online at the exchanges.