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The term “Commissary” in the context of VA benefits refers to a retail store located on military installations. It offers active-duty military members, veterans, and their eligible family members access to groceries and household items at reduced prices. Shopping at a commissary helps military families save money while supporting their everyday needs.

Key Takeaways

  1. Commissary refers to on-base grocery stores and other retail facilities that provide discounted goods and services to eligible military personnel, veterans, and their families.
  2. Access to commissaries is one of the VA benefits available to specific groups, such as active-duty service members, retired military personnel, Medal of Honor recipients, and 100% disabled veterans.
  3. Using commissary services can contribute to significant savings on everyday purchases, helping military families and veterans maintain a higher quality of life and easily access essential items.


The term “Commissary” in VA benefits is essential because it directly relates to the valuable privileges and services provided to eligible veterans, active-duty service members, and their families.

Commissaries are retail stores that offer groceries and household items at significantly reduced prices compared to commercial establishments, ultimately helping service members and their families save money on everyday essentials.

Gaining access to commissaries is an important veterans’ benefit as it supports their overall financial well-being and expresses gratitude for their dedication and sacrifices made while serving their country.


The commissary, an essential benefit provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), serves as a convenient and cost-effective space where military personnel, retirees, and their families can access an array of products at significantly discounted prices. The underlying purpose of a commissary is to enhance the quality of life for the entire military community.

As a benefit, it serves to alleviate some financial burden by providing substantial savings on groceries and other household goods. In doing so, this service allows the said community to allocate their financial resources more efficiently, contributing thereby to the general welfare of the military families.

A commissary offers a welcoming environment with an extensive selection of items, comprising of both national brands and private label products. The range encompasses fresh produce, meat, and dairy, as well as general merchandise, including household cleaning supplies, and health and beauty products.

Additionally, the commissaries frequently adapt their product mix to suit the preferences of the local community they serve, thereby catering to its unique needs. The use of commissaries ultimately demonstrates the VA’s commitment to supporting military service members and their families during their time in service and after retirement, by prioritizing their well-being and financial stability.

Examples of Commissary

Military Commissary Discounts: Commissaries are grocery stores located on military installations that sell food and household items to active-duty, Guard, Reserve, and retired military personnel and their eligible family members at reduced prices. By shopping at a commissary, eligible VA beneficiaries can save on groceries and other household goods, as commissaries typically offer lower prices than off-base stores due to reduced operating costs and no sales tax.

Commissary Privileges Expansion: In January 2020, the Department of Defense expanded commissary access to eligible veterans with service-connected disabilities, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, and primary caregivers of eligible veterans under the VA Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. The expanded access allows these eligible recipients to enjoy the cost-saving benefits associated with shopping at commissaries.

CASEY Commissary, South Korea: This commissary, located within the United States Army Garrison Casey in South Korea, is one example of a real-world commissary accessible by eligible VA beneficiaries. It provides a wide range of items to military personnel and their families stationed overseas, helping them maintain a comfortable lifestyle while away from home. This commissary offers groceries, household items, and other necessities, demonstrating the variety of commissaries available to those who qualify for VA benefits.

FAQs – Commissary Benefits

What is the Commissary benefit?

The Commissary benefit allows eligible service members, retirees, and their families to save on groceries and household items by offering lower prices compared to commercial grocery stores. Commissaries are stores located on military installations and offer a variety of food and non-food items.

Who is eligible for the Commissary benefit?

Active duty service members, National Guard and reserve members, military retirees, Medal of Honor recipients, 100% disabled veterans, and their authorized family members are eligible to shop at the commissary. Additionally, some veterans with service-connected disabilities may be eligible for Commissary access.

How does the Commissary save me money?

Commissaries provide significant savings compared to civilian grocery stores because they sell items at cost, without profit. By shopping at the commissary, customers can save an average of 20-30% on their grocery bill, making it a valuable benefit for military families.

Do I need a military ID to shop at the Commissary?

Yes, you must have a valid military ID card to access the Commissary and to make purchases. Your ID card serves as proof of your eligibility for the Commissary benefit.

Is the Commissary open to the public?

The Commissary is not open to the general public. Only authorized shoppers (i.e., eligible service members, retirees, and their families) with a valid military ID card are allowed to shop at the commissary.

Are there any additional fees when shopping at the Commissary?

A 5% surcharge is applied to the total purchase amount in order to offset the cost of maintaining and modernizing the commissary facilities. However, even after this surcharge, you will still typically save 20-30% compared to shopping at commercial grocery stores.

Related VA Benefit Terms

  • Military Exchange
  • Base Privileges
  • Commissary Discounts
  • Commissary Patronage
  • Commissary Shopping

Sources for More Information