By Coleen R. San Nicolas-Perez
Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs
Navy installations are ready to support authorized veterans and their caregivers who will soon be able to enjoy certain Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) programs and shop at base commissaries and exchanges.
Effective Jan. 1 2020, veterans awarded the Purple Heart or Medal of Honor, who are former prisoners of war, or have service-connected disability along with their caregivers will be permitted to use the commissary, military exchange and many MWR facilities per the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.
“We are excited and looking forward to serving this new patron group at our MWR facilities throughout the shore enterprise,” said James Baker, director of Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) fleet readiness division, which oversees all MWR programs at Navy bases.
Qualifying veterans and caregivers will have access to MWR golf courses, bowling alleys, movie theaters, food and beverage facilities, campgrounds, lodging facilities, marinas, recreational cottages and cabins as well as tickets and travel offices. Access to auto skills and outdoor recreation facilities as well as special events will be at the discretion of the installation commanding officers based on capacity.
The patronage expansion does not include access to fitness centers, swimming pools, libraries, Single Sailor Programs, and Child and Youth Programs (Child Development Centers, School Age Care, Youth Programs and Child Development Homes).
“To our veterans and their families, welcome back,” Baker said. “Our MWR teams are committed to offering you a great experience with every visit.”
Navy installations are also ready to assist qualifying veterans and caregivers with obtaining base access.
“As we continue to focus on our number one priority of ensuring the safety of our people and the security of our installations, we are dedicated to providing top-notch customer service to our veterans as they come into the Visitors Control Centers (VCC) to process their base access,” said William Holdren, deputy director for CNIC’s force protection program.
Patrons are advised of the following:
· Veterans in possession of a Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will be required to enroll their VHIC in the Defense Biometric Identification System (DBIDS) at their local VCC for installation access.
· Veterans who are not eligible for a VHIC will require a letter issued from the VA indicating eligibility for access to DoD installations. Those with a letter from the VA must enroll their Real ID driver’s license in DBIDS.
· Caregivers can present their letter of eligibility from the VA at their local VCC and enroll their Real ID driver’s license in DBIDS for installation access.
· A DBIDS credential will be issued in cases when a Real ID compliant driver’s license is not available.
For more information about obtaining a VHIC or a letter from Veterans Affairs, visit your local VA medical facility or call 1-877-222-VETS (8387), Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
To learn more about base access requirements, contact or visit the nearest Navy Visitors Control Center.