DoD expanding on-post privileges to some veterans

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COLORADO SPRINGS — A new year means new benefits for some veterans.

The Department of Defense is expanding commissary, military exchange, and morale, welfare, and recreation (MWR) retail privileges on U.S. military installations.

This only applies to Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and veterans with service-connected disabilities and caregivers.

“It could potentially be very big, I think, for one thing, there’s a sense of loss of family when you leave the military. So to be able to have access to the installations and go shopping in the commissary or go bowling maybe, is something that could be a good benefit in terms of a community-connectedness piece,” said Kate Hatten, the Executive Director of Home Front Military Care Network. “We want to certainly work on addressing that sense of isolation, make sure people feel connected to our community whether that’s on the installation or off, but that can certainly be a help with that.”

However former U.S. Army Sgt. Douglas Ducote feels like the priorities of VA should be elsewhere, like on programs for veterans struggling with PTSD.

“It’s the DoD doing something more for veterans. I feel as though every effort should be made, to continue to try and solve the problem of mental health and veterans’ suicide,” said Ducote.

Ducote said veterans can find ways to be connected outside the gates too, his way to continue to serve his community is the VFW.

“There’s just something about the way your mind works after you get out of the military, the way you think about things and observe your world and there’s a comfort in that,” said Ducote.

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