Veterans to get more access to Mississippi Navy base

December 30, 2019 GMT

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — Some military veterans and their caregivers will soon have more access to a Mississippi Navy base.

A policy change at Naval Air Station Meridian that’s new for 2020 will mean that approved veterans can apply for authorization to shop at base commissaries and Navy Exchange stores, The Meridian Star reported.

They’ll also be able to take part in morale, welfare and recreation programs. Those programs include recreational activities such as golf and bowling.

Base officials say eligible veterans include Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war, or veterans with a service-related disability.

A key change with the new policy will be more access for disabled veterans, base officials say.

“This opens things up for a lot more people to access these services,” base spokeswoman Penny Randall said.

Veteran Richard Nelson said he’s pleased with the new policy.

“I think it’s a great idea for vets to be able to go and buy groceries and go to the Navy Exchange,” Nelson said. “I’m retired so I get to go all the time, but for people who put in 4 to 6 years and became disabled, I think it’s great for them to get to go, too.”

Eligible veterans must bring a driver’s license, veterans health I.D. card, proof of insurance and vehicle registration when applying at the visitor’s center.

“I have to stress that all veterans must pass the background check before they obtain access to the installation,” Capt. Brian Horstman, commanding officer of the base, said in a statement.

“We continue to focus on our number one priority of ensuring the safety of our people and the security of our installation, at the same time we are dedicated to providing top-notch customer service to our veterans as they come in to process their base access,” he said.