Commissary Shopping ID’s for Disabled Veterans

Access to commissaries is just one of many valuable military benefits around.    Many veterans would like to know if they have this privilege.  Commissaries are supermarkets in military installations, and shopping there is often cheaper than off-base.

Veteran Eligibility for Commissaries

In general, unlimited commissary privileges extend only to active-duty and retired members of the armed forces.  If the veteran in your family was/is not retired, you can be eligible for full commissary access only if:

  • The veteran is a recipient of a Congressional Medal of Honor OR
  • The veteran is rated 100% disabled for service-connected disabilities by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • The veteran was rated 100% disabled for service-connected injuries as above at the time of death

For totally disabled veterans, the VA board decision letter you received should indicate if you are entitled to commissary access, as well as other benefits (such as Chapter 35 and CHAMPVA if your condition is found to be permanent).

The veteran’s disability can be either 100% schedular rating or total disability based on individual unemployability or TDIU.

How to Get a Commissary Authorization Card

Before you can use a commissary, you need VA letter that says you are entitled to it. You can ask VA to send you one or you can use the decision letter you already have. Bring the letter to a local Pass and ID office, so that you can be issued a Department of Defense ID that authorizes you to shop at a commissary.   You cannot be allowed in a commissary without such an ID.

The veteran’s spouse and dependent children are also entitled to the same authorization ID.

Surviving spouses who have not remarried, and surviving dependent children are also eligible for commissary privileges if:

  • The veteran died on active duty OR
  • The veteran was honorably discharged and entitled and awarded 100% service-connected disability rating by the VA

When applying for their military ID’s for commissary admission, you will need your marriage certificate if you are the veteran’s spouse, or a birth certificate if you are an eligible child.

What About Other Veterans?

Honorably discharged veterans who receive inpatient care (that is, get hospitalized) in a military installation that has a commissary may buy from that commissary then.  This limited privilege does not apply to veterans who are receive only outpatient care.

Bringing Guests to a Commissary

As a general rule, commissary patrons (that is, you, the authorized shopper) can bring a guest along for a shopping trip.  However each military base will have its own rules, so first contact the commissary you intend to use and check if guests are allowed.  Even if they are, your guests will not be allowed to buy anything at the commissary, and you aren’t permitted to make purchases on their behalf.


Department of Defense Instruction: Armed Services Commissary Operations