Everything you need to know about the new veterans online shopping benefit

military exchange

Attendees of the grand reopening of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Exchange and other shoppers visit the Exchange and enjoy refreshments June 4, 2014. (Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall PAO photo by Rachel Larue)

By Meg Schweitzer

A new veterans online shopping benefit will be available later this year, but shoppers will have to be verified first.

Honorably discharged veterans may log onto VetVerify.org, which will use information from DoD’s Defense Manpower Data Center’s records and inform them of their ability to access this new benefit. If a veteran’s record has character of service data and that data meets the criteria for the online benefit, the veteran will be verified to shop.

Then, beginning on Nov. 11, veterans can log onto military exchange websites for tax-free shopping. If a veteran’s information is incomplete, VetVerify will provide guidance on next steps.

The exchange websites include: Military ExchangeCoast Guard ExchangeMarine Corps Exchange, and Navy Exchange.

Increased sales and earnings as a result of veterans online shopping benefit have the potential to generate tens of millions of dollars in additional dividends to Quality-of-Life programs, writes Chris Ward of DVIDs. These funds decrease taxpayers’ burden to support services and programs on military installations around the world. The Army & Air Force Exchange Service, Coast Guard Exchange Marine Corps Exchange and Navy Exchange currently provide more than $300 million in support for military Quality-of-Life programs annually.

More than 95,000 people visited the military exchanges’ VetVerify.org website in its first month to register, The Military Times reports.

Those interested in being “beta testers” will have access to the online stores before Nov. 11.

Here are a few frequently asked questions, and some answers, supplied by AAFES and The Military Times:

Q. Who is authorized to shop at the Exchange?

A. The Exchange and its shopping website, shopmyexchange.com, are for the exclusive use of authorized Exchange customers throughout the world. This includes:

  • Active-duty military
  • Retirees
  • Reserve personnel
  • National Guard personnel
  • Ready Reserve
  • U.S. civilian Department of Defense employees, when stationed outside of the U.S.
  • Department of State officials serving in foreign countries
  • Dependents of the above

Q. Can my spouse (or other family member) shop? 

A. No. The new benefit is specific to veterans with honorable and general (under honorable conditions) discharges.

Q. Is this site a phishing scam?

A. No. VetVerify.org is a shared service for all the military exchanges with the sole purpose of supporting the newly approved veterans online shopping benefit. VetVerify.org uses data from Defense Manpower Data Center, which holds the most comprehensive dataset on veterans, to verify eligibility.

Q. Does the veterans online shopping benefit extend to shopping at the commissary? 

A. No.

Q. What if my service can’t be verified? 

A. There may be further information needed, so you will need to submit a digital copy of your discharge paperwork to be reviewed for eligibility. After you submit your verification form through VetVerify.org, you will be prompted to upload the necessary paperwork.

Q. Why is my Social Security number needed?

A. Only authorized Exchange customers can order from the all services Exchange Online Store and the Exchange Online Mall. Since we are unable to validate eligibility online by viewing each customer’s Identification and Privilege Card, we must validate eligibility through the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). The only information available for eligibility validation purposes is Social Security number and date of birth. For this reason, when first-time customers log-in to our site we are required to obtain the last four digits of their Social Security number, along with a date of birth and last name. The first time customers enter our site, however, they will be required to create a new Username to replace their Social Security number.

Q. Who should I call if I have problems with the verification process? 

A. The VetVerify.org customer call center, toll-free, at 844-868-8672.

Connect: @MegSchweitzer | Meg@ConnectingVets.com

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