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Veterans Access to Base Exchanges


Steven@146

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What ever happened with the issue of honorable discharged veterans (but not retired) getting access to base exchanges and commissaries? Seems like it just faded away. I thought they were going to allow honorable vets to get ID cards for this purpose. I thought the idea was that the increased buying power could or would lower the prices some what at the bases. As an honorable discharged vet after 6 years service, my intention would not be to buy a lot of things, especially at the commissaries, the active service people and retirees need groceries there more than we do. But it would be nice to get a few things at the base exchanges.

Recently we visited Fort Sill and the museums and stopped by the base exchange just to look around, the supervisor in charge of the base exchange allowed us to buy some souvenir T-shirts from the exchange. Anything more than that and I'm sure they would not allowed it.

Ws just wondering

Steve & Tami Cass, Fulltime Somewhere

2018 Ram 3500 DRW / 2019 Grand Design Solitude 3350RL S-Class. Texas Class A Drivers License

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Exchanges don't have better prices anymore so far as I can tell. You pay sales tax and the prices aren't any better than Walmart, and maybe a bit worse than Walmart. I am service connected and we can use FamCamps and the base facilities. We are at Ft Harrison right now. The BX here is very tiny, barely a minute market.

I don't know when the price shift occurred but they are no longer a bargain. It was more than 10 or 12 years ago since we visited my son at the Sam Antonio base and went to the exchange there.  They do have a lot of military gear tho.

Getting your non Vet wife on base can be a pain in the rear depending on the security level of the base.

 

Edited by agesilaus
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31 minutes ago, agesilaus said:

Exchanges don't have better prices anymore so far as I can tell. You pay sales tax and the prices aren't any better and maybe a bit worse than Walmart. I am service connected and we can use FamCamps and the base facilities. We are at Ft Harrison right now. The BX here is very tiny, barely a minute market.

I don't know when the price shift occurred but they are no longer a bargain. It was more than 10 or 12 years ago since we visited my son at the Sam Antonio base and went to the exchange there.  They do have a lot of military gear tho.

Getting your non Vet wife on base can be a pain in the rear depending on the security level of the base.

 

I'm sure the specific base makes a difference as far as security. It used to be a real perk for retiring from the military, using the base facilities. Of course we have been out of the Navy now for 50 years, a night and day change has happened since we were in. We visited a friend at Kirkland AFB a while back and he was saying the same thing about the prices. The wife and I had no problem getting passes to get on base at Kirkland and Fort Sill. Sure brought back a lot of memories for us being on a military base. We really enjoyed Fort Sill and the artillery museums and the Native American Cemeteries. We got a tour of the flightline at Kirkland and a 130 and Osprey. A lot has changed but I saw some things on these newer aircraft that we had on our aircraft 50 years ago.

This year we also visited the PIMA Air and Space Museum at Tucson and the National Museum for Nuclear Science and Technology in Albuquerque. The Boneyard in Tucson is permanently closed to the public.

All of our (my) enlistment was spent at NAS Lemoore. I know a lot of retired vets use base campgrounds when available, seem to be lower priced per night.

In 1979 when I got out, the Navy was kind of purging the ranks, I was offered to reenlist in my current squadron, but 4 more years of sea duty did not appeal to me or my wife. Old Admiral Zumwalt was really shaking things up back then. Heard he felt that if you were in the Navy you should serve at sea. Shore duty rotations kept getting shorter and fewer places to go, the cruises on aircraft carriers and fleet ships kept getting longer and longer. No bonuses for reenlistments, just wasn't they way to raise a family back then, or we might have stayed in.

But it would be nice to visit a Navy Exchange or BX now and again.

Steve & Tami Cass, Fulltime Somewhere

2018 Ram 3500 DRW / 2019 Grand Design Solitude 3350RL S-Class. Texas Class A Drivers License

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To correct some misinformation... exchange and commissary privileges are limited to:

  • Active Duty or Reserve Uniformed and Retired Uniformed personnel.
  • Recipients of the Medal of Honor.
  • Honorably Discharged Veterans when certified 100% disabled.
  • Military Members of Foreign Nations when on duty with U.S. Military Service.
  • National Guard not in Federal Service.
  • Red Cross Personnel who are U.S. citizens, assigned outside the U.S. with the Military Service.
  • U.S. Civilian DoD Employees when stationed outside the U.S.
  • U.S. Citizen Employees of Firms under contract to the Department of Defense when employed outside the U.S. Military Transition Personnel.
  • Retired Ship’s Officers and Crew members of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, NOAA.
  • Ship’s Officers and Crew members of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, NOAA.
  • Dependent family members of personnel listed above.
  • Contract Surgeons.
  • Non-DoD Federal Departments/Agencies as determined by local commanding officer.
  • Dependents of members of the armed forces, commissioned officers of the Public Health Service or commissioned officers of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association who have been separated for dependent abuse.

Sales tax is not charged at the PX or commissary, but commissary patrons pay a 5% surcharge for the "improvement of commissary facilities." Here in Maryland (where we're staying on Aberdeen Proving Ground), some prices at the commissary are better than Walmart and some are not. There are also things we can get at Walmart that we can't get at the commissary - and vice versa. Maryland does not charge sales tax on food, so if prices were the same at Walmart and the commissary, we'd be paying 5% more at the commissary because of the surcharge.

Rob

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Full-time since 8/2015

 

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I remember in the 1980's the Commissary powers that be, decided they were getting too many complaints from town neighboring military installations about undercutting their prices. Not long afterwards Commissary prices began to rise. By the time I retired in 1992 it was cheaper to shop off-base.

I still receive emails from the Exchange, but when I sign-in to their website, I can go buy athletic stuff, fishing gear, etc. for less at Dicks Sporting Goods, often the same brand name.

And the DOD is concerned about the low rate of volunteers for the military___.  I see now they have lowered the fitness standards yet again to attract more volunteers. The army is even running a fat camp to prepare potential recruits for active duty. I can't say how I feel about all that without being banned from the forums.

 

2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA ." And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961

 

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Thanks Rob, while I have found that info before, your post is very concise now saved as a Word Doc in my military folder. I have never seen the Com charge tax but they do charge the 5% surcharge.

The BX has no sales tax or surcharges and is about the same as downtown on the same name brand items but you can do better at Wally World and still no sales tax at the BX. The BX prices on computer accessories and drives are horrible! I have gotten some excellent buys at the BX on handguns/rifles/pistols when on sale. I got it for  $260 total when S&W .40 M&P shield were on clearance to make way for the new model back in They have had more ammo available at lower prices on and off since those prices went up.

I have bought all of my AR and pistol accessories at TEMU lately. AR wrench multi tool is $14.99 there half off and the same quality if not the identical. The BX and all other stores are too high for gun accessories now. But that's another topic except that they are way cheaper for accessories.

We shop every few days at the Commissary (Com)and King Soopers or KS (Kroger subsidiary). Despite the 5% surcharge these are price comparisons between the two. See there are a few items at KS we can't get at the commissary like the giant Italian Subs that are about 15" long for $6.99 that are almost too big for the two of us to eat.

We find a Big savings at the Com. Here are examples from here. Your prices my vary in town. KS does not have our favorite Louisiana Hot sauce, Crystal, but the BX does.

12 pack of soda Coke and other name brands are $9.99 at KS and $6.99 at Com but the Com has them on sale for $3.99 often and did have them on sale at that price last week so we stocked up.

A bunch of scallions/green onions the same size at KS is $.89, and at the Com $.59. Those prices are today not years ago. In Bossier City Louisiana/Barksdale AFB Louisiana the differences were the same but both were lower before COVID and savings were real at the Com. The 5% Surcharge adds $.0295 to the $.59 so much cheaper.

If you are near a base and one of those authorized above and believe civvy groceries  are less expensive, I would suggest buying a few things at the Com and then buy the same at you local preferred grocer.

It was the same in 1971 and 1998 when I retired. Granted sometimes with sales back in the day and now we do save and do buy at KS. But it is less and less often they have sales that compete or are much less.

Your prices may vary but I would check Com and BX if your info is decades old by shopping there. We shop the sales everywhere but it's the weekly big shopping trips with a majority not on special sales that save big at the Com.

 

 

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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As of 2017 all Honorably discharged veterans, not qualified otherwise as Rob has posted above,  can shop on-line at exchanges by submitting verification information then obtaining a login/password from the different exchanges. 

"Veterans Privileges

Approved Veterans can shop the online exchanges, including ShopMyExchange.com! Shopping with the Exchange online gives you access to exclusive military pricing and offers, tax-free shopping and more. This is a lifelong benefit that will be extended to all who discharge honorably from service"

See info here -  https://www.defense.gov/News/News-Stories/Article/Article/1371458/honorably-discharged-vets-now-have-online-exchange-shopping-privileges/

All Honorably Discharged Veterans can shop the Exchange or other military exchanges like the Navy Exchange and buy online, however they can not use this privilege in person at military base Exchanges, MX/ BX or Commissaries. This privilege does not give Honorable Discharged Veterans access to base facilities. On-line ordering from exchanges only.

Back in 2017 I applied for the on-line access to exchanges and it was granted, but never activated it until recently. I have used the Navy Exchange On-line web site to order stuff and shipped to my address or other address.

Edited by Steven@146

Steve & Tami Cass, Fulltime Somewhere

2018 Ram 3500 DRW / 2019 Grand Design Solitude 3350RL S-Class. Texas Class A Drivers License

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Good info. Have you tested it to see if it is still in effect? More sales online like Amazon may cause them to become competitive in pricing. That helps us all.

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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2 hours ago, RV_ said:

Good info. Have you tested it to see if it is still in effect? More sales online like Amazon may cause them to become competitive in pricing. That helps us all.

Yes,  three days ago I ordered a couple veteran T shirts from the Navy Exchange and had them sent to my Son's address so they will be there when we get there. Once you go through the vetverify  application- .https://www.vetverify.org/ it will show if the applicant is eligible to shop on-line the exchanges.

Good communications when ordering, e-mail confirmation of order and e-mail when shipped. Of course you have to pay shipping. There was some good camping stuff on the exchanges and I saw one of those camping chairs with the shock absorber back legs for $62. That's a tad lower than other retail stores I've seen like Bass Pro, but then you would have to pay shipping if the total is under $50. But if its what you want,,,,,,,,

 

Additional info https://veteran.com/military-exchange-online-shopping-veterans/

How Do Veterans Obtain Online Privileges?

The first step is check your eligibility. Go to VetVerify.org and submit your verification form today. Applicants are required to submit verification of their military service, but it’s a very simple process. You’ll be asked to provide your full name, last four digits of your Social Security Number, date of birth, and a contact email.

Successful applicants are taken to a “Thank You!” page which includes notification of when veterans can start using this benefit. Spouse and dependents of veterans are not eligible however this probably won’t stop many from using the credentials of an authorized veteran to make purchases online.

What Exchanges Can a Veteran Shop?

Authorized veterans can shop the four (AAFES, NEXCOM, MCX and CGX) military exchanges: shopmyexchange.com, mynavyexchange.com and ShopCGX.com. Additionally, veterans can shop across all online exchange offerings regardless of their branch of service

Edited by Steven@146
additional info

Steve & Tami Cass, Fulltime Somewhere

2018 Ram 3500 DRW / 2019 Grand Design Solitude 3350RL S-Class. Texas Class A Drivers License

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As retired Navy, I can tell you that I have never saved enough money at any Exchange or Commissary to make it worth the drive to the base.  And that includes all the way back to the 1980's when I was first on Active Duty and the base was only 10 minutes away.  It was cheaper to go to Safeway 2 blocks from me, or the local hardware store or Radio Shack.

The only thing that made it worth my time was when I was in the Reserves and had to have my uniforms cleaned and pressed.  I could get it done for $5 a set, whereas in town it was $15.  That is also the only time I shopped at the Exchange, but only because I was already there.

CA Dept of Fish & Wildlife (Ret)

US Navy (Ret)

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The Army Air Force exchange has something new. The exchange has partnered with Home Depot to sell large/major appliances. I received this exchange email Saturday:  https://www.shopmyexchange.com/a/3539981?iid=home-depot&lid=i2lsg057uwio&br_id=30604874156&br_c=23_0716_1_natIcecream&br_app=EC&mi_u=30604874156&mi_emcp=23_0716_1_natIcecream

 

Edited by Ray,IN

 

2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA ." And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961

 

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Great write-up Steven! Thanks! I'm a retiree but had heard vaguely about veterans getting access to the BX but never looked into it. Shipping is free for all orders over $49. All shipping is free if you use the Military Star card to order. Of course you need to be approved with ID as Steven posted above and would have to qualify for the card as with any card.

I just bought an LG 75" TV there and had I ordered it online shipping would be free, as well it shows how much I saved with no taxes: 4rIMEe8l.jpg The Military Star credit card has great rates and bennies. I just called and found this out about free shipping from Exchange online.

If using your Military Star card shipping is always free,  you are only charged for shipping if you use other cards and your order/item is under $49. Over $49 orders with any card are free shipping.

Since Amazon and other stores must all charge taxes, this alone makes buying at the BX almost always more bang for your buck.

Sounds like a good benefit for our fellow vets without base access. I picked up my TV at the Peterson SFB BX yesterday and saved a bunch over Amazon etc just in taxes.

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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Ray, good info on Home Depot and appliances, I hadn't heard about that.

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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I do remember one time back in around 1978, the congress didn't pass the budget so the military wasn't going to get paid. The base we were on at the time said we could still buy groceries at the commissary just on our signature, just come back in when the budget passed and we got paid to settle up. No off base retail store would have done that. IIRC the gas station on base was going to do the same thing.

Back in those days we didn't have or use credit cards. I remember reading my social security statement back for those years and our annual gross income was like $7000. We lived on base and didn't get the housing subsidy. We couldn't afford much back then.

Steve & Tami Cass, Fulltime Somewhere

2018 Ram 3500 DRW / 2019 Grand Design Solitude 3350RL S-Class. Texas Class A Drivers License

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2 hours ago, Steven@146 said:

I do remember one time back in around 1978, the congress didn't pass the budget so the military wasn't going to get paid. The base we were on at the time said we could still buy groceries at the commissary just on our signature, just come back in when the budget passed and we got paid to settle up. No off base retail store would have done that. IIRC the gas station on base was going to do the same thing.

Back in those days we didn't have or use credit cards. I remember reading my social security statement back for those years and our annual gross income was like $7000. We lived on base and didn't get the housing subsidy. We couldn't afford much back then.

I remember that time. I was overseas and on a midwatch when the news hit. One person told the watch officer that he would not be there for the next watch if he didn't get paid. He was promptly reminded that there was nothing in the oath that said you were going to get paid. I was impressed with the wives in our neighborhood in housing that quickly organized pot luck dinners so to pool grocery resources. Fortunately, the situation in Congress resolved rather quickly. 

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Something similar, when I got married to the little girl I had always rode the school bus with in grade school, while in the service, and went to check my wife into the Squadron, the Command Master Chief told me that the Navy did not issue me a wife! My wife had no clue about the military, never been anywhere near the military. She thought she had to go back home!

But funny how the wives always new what was going on, sometimes before we did!

I think it was 79, we were headed home on the carrier from PI after about a 6 month cruise. I called the wife back in the states telling her it wont be long now, we're on the way home. She said, nope, your going to the Indian Ocean and the Middle East. I said no Honey I am on the ship I should know ! She said, no Sweetheart, I just got it from the base beauty shop, you're going to the Indian Ocean. Seems our Commanding Officers wife was in the beauty shop at the same time.

Sure enough, when I got back to the ship docked at Cubi Point, the Captain was on the 1MC telling the crew the President had ordered us to the Indian Ocean. Go figure!

That cruise lasted 9 months. For the next few days underway we took on more planes, bombs, fuel and provisions and the fleet went through the Straits of Malacca nearly full speed. The Ranger was supposed to relieve us later but hit a freighter in the Straits and had to go back to Subic, the Midway came over to finally relieve us.

Several of the crew had onloaded motorcycle crates, stereos, furniture, all kinds of stuff and one guy had bought an old WW2 Indian motorcycle. As we took on more bombs and provisions space got limited, so new motorcycles and furniture went overboard. The guy with the old Indian bike took it all apart and stored the parts all over the squadron work centers, he saved it. One guy brought an old Chevy Pickup on board for transport back to the states. Eventually that old Chevy truck got shot overboard to make room. To relieve the tension they painted up the old truck like an aircraft and shot it off the angle cat over the side! It lays somewhere at the bottom of the Indiana Ocean.

Just about the only thing non military that didn't go overboard was the Admirals black American Motors Ambassador Limo.

Funny the things you remember,,,,,,,,

Edited by Steven@146

Steve & Tami Cass, Fulltime Somewhere

2018 Ram 3500 DRW / 2019 Grand Design Solitude 3350RL S-Class. Texas Class A Drivers License

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On 7/18/2023 at 2:39 PM, RV_ said:

Ray, good info on Home Depot and appliances, I hadn't heard about that.

That is brand-new, I'm anxious to find out the details or how it all occurs. I wonder if Home Depot acts as a middleman or a remote outlet.  It will sure benefit those retires (me) who live over 100 miles from a military exchange.

 

2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA ." And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961

 

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14 hours ago, Ray,IN said:

That is brand-new, I'm anxious to find out the details or how it all occurs. I wonder if Home Depot acts as a middleman or a remote outlet.  It will sure benefit those retires (me) who live over 100 miles from a military exchange.

I checked the price of an all-in-one washer dryer that we are considering for the RV and the discount was 11%, so slightly larger than the normal 10%. It also said "Free Delivery" and I would like to check what that includes. I did not add it to the shopping cart to see if it would be tax free although I would hope it would be if it was through the BX.

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Folks, I have ordered from the BX many times and it is tax free and free delivery over $49 bucks and free with all purchases on the star card, Free delivery is as I said above. I have found that with retail and the Exchange it is best to call them and ask. That way you get it instantly.

Phone

 

Chat is available once signed in, at the bottom "Contact Us" link on the Exchange website.

 
Edited by RV_

RV/Derek
http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998


When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius

 

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

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