VSO/MSO communications colleagues: As you likely know by now, the Defense Department publicly announced the Jan. 1, 2020 expanded patronage action on Wednesday. See release at: https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5360 VA published a Vantage Point blog yesterday to amplify this further: https://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/67974/commissary-military-service-exchange-mwr-access-extended-veterans-beginning-january/ The link below goes to MilitaryOneSource and the fact sheet; this is 100% releasable public information to any Veteran, caregiver, or media requesting it. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/products#!/detail/780 VA will look to respond to questions concerning verifying Veteran and Primary Family Caregiver eligibility regarding VHIC card issuance and caregiver letter issuance. The VA Caregivers office is in final stages of coordinating letter issuance with DOD to the Primary Family Caregivers to ensure the information transfers to the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). We will refer back to DOD any questions received by VA regarding the benefit (offered in-person or online) or access to military installations. Social Media: #WelcomeHomeVets is the designated social media identifier for the patronage expansion of commissary, military exchange, and MWR retail privileges. The following additional hashtags and handles, when appropriate, should be used in conjunction with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media postings: - #DoDAccess - @ShopMyExchange for AAFES references - @NavyExchange, #NavyExchange, #MissionYou, or #MoreThanJustAStore for NEX references - @NavyLodge or #NavyLodge for Navy Lodge references# - YourCommissary When discussing the Veteran Health Identification Card, use @VeteransHealth When discussing target populations, use #DisabledVeterans, #Veterans, #PrimaryFamilyCaregiver, #Caregivers DO NOT use #Patronage or #PatronageExpansion in any social media posts Public affairs officers are authorized to upload released photos, stories, videos, and graphics to their organizational social media pages to illustrate eligibility, access, and privileges Communications offices are encouraged to link to the following websites and social media account pages: - Patronage Expansion Fact Sheet on Military OneSource: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/products#!/detail/780 Some context points also here: The VA VHIC card for 0-90 % service connected, Veterans, Purple Heart recipients and former POWs, and Primary Family Care Giver letter (plus valid Real, DOD, or government ID) for Primary Family Caregivers are the only acceptable forms of IDs for expanded access under this law. The fact sheet provides details on this. This new law does NOT cover being a just a former servicemember (DD 214 holder); you must be a “Veteran” under law with a relationship with VA (receiving benefits, and receiving or eligible to receive care) to access this benefit. Of the approximately estimated 4 million Veterans this could positively impact, over 3 million already have a VHIC card. “0” percent rated Veterans not eligible for VHIC got online privileges for now due to base access challenges that could not be overcome before Jan. 1, 2020; they get online shopping and travel discount website access; longer-term credential solution is needed. Of the estimated 37K this affects, our data shows ~6K live close to military installations. Benefits extended to Veterans through the Veteran Canteen Service (VCS) remain available and unchanged.