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Legislation Introduced to Expand Commissary Access to Disabled Vets, Heroes

July 12, 2018, 10:46 AM HST (Updated July 12, 2018, 10:46 AM)
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U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) introduced the Purple Heart and Disabled Veterans Equal Access Act of 2018 on July 12, 2018.

The legislation would open access to commissaries, exchanges, and recreation facilities to new patrons, including Purple Heart recipients, Medal of Honor recipients, former prisoners of war, veterans with service-connected disabilities and their designated caregivers.

“If you have the Purple Heart, you should also have access to the commissary. It’s as simple as that,” said Senator Schatz, who is the lead Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. “The added bonus to our bill is that it will strengthen the commissary system in the long run, which is good for both active duty personnel and American taxpayers.”

“Expanding the commissary privilege is a small way that we can show our appreciation to this special and deserving group of veterans,” said Senator Boozman, who is the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. “This will help them and their caregivers save money and support the commissary and exchange programs.”

The senators also sent a letter to the House and Senate leaders of the Armed Services Committees asking them to include the bill in the final conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019.

According to a 2017 Department of Defense review, expanding access to new patron groups would strengthen the commissary system, which is consistently ranked as the most important non-cash compensation benefit among service members, while reducing reliance on Congressional appropriations.

The legislation is supported by several veteran service organizations, including the American Legion, AMVETS, Association of the U.S. Navy, Disabled American Veterans, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Wounded Warrior Project.

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