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DoD expands base access to eligible veterans

  • Published
  • By Glenn S. Robertson
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

Note: This article was written using information from a press release from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Expanded commissary, Base Exchange and MWR access began Jan. 1, 2020 at military installations across the globe, including F. E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming. In addition to the expanded access, the Department of Defense established a standard for physical access to installations.

According to DoD officials, eligible veterans and primary family caregivers must have a Veterans Health Identification Card. Primary family caregivers must have an eligibility letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Community Care. (Details on enrolling and eligibility documents can be found below.)

Base access is not automatic, however, and there are a few steps that newly eligible veterans and caregivers must take to get on the installation.

The first step is to stop in at the visitor center, where security forces will conduct a background check, said Gilbert Chavez, Security Supervisor Technician at Pass and Registration.

“When an eligible veteran or caregiver first visits F. E. Warren, they must stop at the visitor center on Pershing Avenue, where they’ll go through a background check,” said Chavez. “Following a clean check, the VHIC will be entered into the system and the visitor can come on base without stopping at the visitor center in the future.”

Spouses and dependents not in possession of a base access credential may accompany the veteran, however, they must be issued a pass at the visitor center. 

Veterans with certain felony convictions, arrest warrants, or other types of derogatory information related to criminal history or terrorism will not be permitted entry, he added. People seeking more information can contact the pass and registration section at (307) 773-1853.

Veterans eligible solely under this act who are not enrolled in or are not eligible to enroll in VA health care, or who are enrolled in VA health care, but do not possess a VHIC will not have access to DoD and Coast Guard installations for in-person commissary, exchange and MWR retail privileges, but will have full access to online exchanges and American Forces Travel.

Veterans eligible to obtain a VHIC must use this credential for in-person installation and privilege access, and the card must display the veteran’s eligibility status (e.g., Purple Heart, former prisoner of war or military-service connected). Medal of Honor recipients and veterans with 100% service-connected disability ratings are eligible for DoD credentials under DoD policy.

How to get a VHIC
Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive a VHIC. To enroll, complete an application for enrollment by telephone without the need for a signed-paper application. Just call 877-222-VETS (8387) Monday through Friday between the hours of 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Veterans can also apply for VA healthcare benefits online at, or in person at a local VA medical facility. Once enrollment is verified, veterans can have their picture taken at their local VA medical center, and VA will mail the VHIC.

ID needed to get a VHIC
To ensure a veteran’s identity, enrollees must provide one form of primary identification when requesting a VHIC. Acceptable forms of primary identification are:
State-issued driver’s license
U.S. passport or passport card
Other government ID

This ID can be issued by federal, state or local government agencies provided it contains a photograph, name, date of birth and address. If the address is not on the proofing document, veterans can provide separate documentation to confirm their address. Acceptable address documents include:
Electric bill
Cable bill
Other mailing document
Voter Registration card

How long does it take?
Once the picture is taken, veterans should receive their VHIC within 10 days. If they have any questions, veterans should contact their local VA medical facility where they receive care or call 877-222-VETS (8387).

The VHIC provides:
Increased security for personal information – no personally identifiable information contained on the magnetic stripe or barcode.
Unique member identifier — Department of Defense assigns an electronic data interchange personal identifier that allows VA to retrieve the veteran’s health record.
A salute to military service — The emblem of the veteran’s latest branch of service is displayed on the card. Several special awards will also be listed.
Accessibility – Braille “VA” helps visually impaired veterans to recognize and use the card.
Anti-counterfeiting – Microtext helps prevent reproductions.

Lost or stolen?
If the VHIC is lost or stolen, contact the VA medical facility where the picture was taken to request a new card, or call 877-222-VETS (8387). Veterans will need to provide identification information when reporting lost or stolen cards.

Eligible caregivers will receive an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.
If a primary family caregiver under the PCAFC loses their eligibility letter, please call 877-733-7927 to request a replacement. Please allow two weeks for processing.

For installation access, entry to some commissary stores and at point of sale at commissaries, exchanges, and MWR retail facilities, eligible caregivers will need to show an acceptable credential along with their eligibility letter. Acceptable credentials may include:

DoD common access card (when otherwise eligible)
DoD uniformed services identification card (when otherwise eligible)
REAL ID-compliant driver’s license issued by a state, territory, possession, or the District of Columbia
REAL ID-compliant non-driver’s identification card issued by a state, territory, possession, or the District of Columbia
Enhanced driver’s license issued by a state, territory, possession, or the District of Columbia
U.S. passport or passport card
Foreign passport bearing an unexpired immigrant or non-immigrant visa or entry stamp
Federal personal identity verification card (when otherwise eligible)
Transportation Worker Identification Card