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Getting On A Military Base With Your Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

A Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC), can grant you access to most military bases, where you can take advantage of privileges such as MWR facilities, the commissary, and the base exchanges, as of January 1, 2020. This may come as old news for some of you, or it could be your first time hearing about it. Either way, we are here to help you understand the basics - the who/what/where/when/why/how to use it!

Let's start with WHO can have a VHIC. The VHIC extends to all veterans who are either Purple Heart recipients, Former POWs (prisoners of war), or who have any Service Connected Disability (rating 0-90%; 100% DAV and Medal of Honor recipients will have their own DoD ID card, which offers more extensive privileges).

A veteran health identification card
Photo courtesy of Naval Air Station Pensacola on

WHAT is it and what do you need to get one? It is a card issued to veterans with a service-connected disability rating, a Purple Heart, or are POWs, that have been enrolled in the VA healthcare system. In order to enroll in VA health care, you can either call 877-222-8387, apply online here or you can go in person to your local VA medical facility. Click here to find your nearest VA location. If you are already enrolled, but do not have a VHIC, you can go here Be prepared with information such as your social security number, your military discharge papers, any insurance information, and possibly your income and expenses.

WHERE can you use it? Your VHIC is what you would use to check in to your VA medical center appointments, but it is also now used to get veterans on base to take advantage of the expanded access privileges. This includes base commissaries, base exchanges, and certain Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) retail facilities - golf courses, bowling centers, recreational military lodging, and military campgrounds. Most major military bases will have these, but there are some that do not have any, so you may not be granted access to a base if there is nothing there that you can utilize.

WHEN? As of January 1, 2020, the access to these facilities has opened to VHIC holders.

HOW can you use it? Once you have obtained your VHIC, you don't automatically get base access. Upon your first visit to a military base, your first stop should be to the Visitor Control Center (VCC). Some bases have the option for enrolling in recurring access, but this varies from base to base. Please note, according to VA news, "as with all other individuals seeking access to DoD installations, all eligible Veterans must pass a basic on-the-spot background check prior to enrolling, and an automated check each time they enter the installation. Veterans with felony convictions, felony arrest warrants, or other types of derogatory information related to criminal history or terrorism will not be permitted entry."

As you can see, there are some small hoops you may have to jump through in order to initially obtain your card and get access to the base, but if you do your research and come prepared, it should be a breeze. The VHIC base access only applies to bases in all 50 states, Washington DC, and participating US territories and possessions. Foreign countries are not included, due to SOFA (Status Of Forces Agreements), international laws, and other agreements with host countries.

Please also note, that some of the MWR privileges may be subject to base commander approval only, so it's always best to call ahead to your base Visitor Control Center, military lodging facility, or military RV park to ensure that you and any guests will have access. If you are a VHIC holder and wish to take guests with you onto base, your guests must also go through the vetting process and have proper identification. Lastly, the commissary may charge "user" fees when shoppers pay for purchases with commercial credit or debit cards. Shoppers will not be subject to user fees if paying with the MILITARY STAR® card, cash or EBT.

We hope this article has been helpful and informative!

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This article is shared with you by, your premier source for temporary Military Lodging, Military Space-A Travel, Military RV Camping and Military Travel information.


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