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RI Veterans: Did you know? (commissary rights, events, discounts), 29-12-22 – John A. Cianci

by John A. Cianci, veteran contributing writer

Commissary and Exchange Privileges for Veterans at Newport Navy Base

Photo by John Cianci.  Newport NS Commissary – 1163 Whipple Street, Newport, RI 02841, Store Phone: (401) 841-2111/2112

We start off with a question from one of our readers.

Am I eligible to shop at the Commissary at the Newport Navy Base in Newport, RI as a veteran? – Lenny, Woonsocket RI

Yes, if eligible as a veteran and with proper identification to access the base and shop.

Access to the base includes veterans who have a Veteran Health ID Card (VHIC). Once you access the base, you can shop at the Naval Base Commissary, Exchange, and Military Clothing Store.

This week’s article will detail requirements to obtain a VHIC, along with the Newport Naval Station Commissary hours of operation. 

What’s a Veteran Health ID Card and how do I get one?

From the VA website:

Your Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) is a card you get when you’re enrolled in VA health care. You’ll use your card to check in to your appointments at VA medical centers.

This secure ID card keeps your personal information safe while giving us the information we need to access your VA health record.

You may also use this card to get Veteran discounts at many stores, businesses, and restaurants. If you have a VHIC, you don’t need to request another type of photo ID card to prove you’re a Veteran or to get retail or business discounts.

Note: You can’t use your VHIC as a credit card or insurance card. You can’t use the card to pay co-pays or authorize care at non-VA health facilities.

You can request your VHIC online or in-person at your nearest VA medical center.

How do I get a VHIC?

If you are currently enrolled in the VA Providence VA Healthcare and or receiving VA compensation, you can get a VHIC at the Providence VA Medical facility on Chalkstone Ave, Providence RI.

VETTIP – Be sure to bring a copy of you DD214, identification, and other documents detailed below with you. Enter the VA Providence Hospital main entrance near emergency entry. As you enter the building, go to your right and you will see “booths” to sit and sign up for the VHIC.

More information from the VA website:


Contact your nearest VA medical center and ask to speak with the enrollment coordinator. 

Ask the coordinator to help you arrange to get your picture taken for your new Veteran Health Identification Card.

You can also ask for help with getting your picture taken at your next VA health care appointment.

Bring a current, unexpired ID to your photo appointment.

You can bring any of these ID types:

State-issued driver’s license, or

·      U.S. passport, or 

·      Federal, state, or local government-issued photo ID showing your name, address, and date of birth

Note: If your ID doesn’t show your address, you’ll need to bring a separate document to confirm your address. This could be your electric bill, cable bill, voter registration card, or another mailed document.


You can sign into Access VA to request your VHIC. You’ll need a,, DS Logon, My HealtheVet, or Department of Defense Common Access Card (CAC) account. 

If you don’t have any of these accounts, you can create one now. Follow the instructions on the sign-in page to register for a sign-in partner.

Go to Access VA to request your VHIC online

Have a photo and current ID ready

When you apply for a VHIC online, you’ll need to upload a digital color photo of yourself and a copy of your current photo ID. 

Upload a copy of any of these types of current, unexpired IDs:

  • State-issued driver’s license, or
  • U.S. passport, or 
  • Federal, state, or local government-issued photo ID showing your name, address, and date of birth

Note: If your current ID lists an address different from what we have on file, you’ll need to update your address with us before you can request a VHIC online. 

Find out how to change your address in your profile

Or call us at  877-222-8387 (TTY: 711) and ask to change your address. We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. 

Upload a digital color photo of yourself that follows these rules:

  • Use a photo taken in the last 6 months, and
  • Use a white or off-white background, and
  • Show a full front view of your face (with no hat, head covering, face covering, headphones, or eyeglasses), and
  • Make sure your eyes are open and your hair isn’t covering your eyes or ears, and
  • Crop the photo in a square shape from your shoulders up (like a passport photo), and
  • Upload your photo as a .jpeg, .png, .bmp, .gif, or .tiff file

Commissary and exchange privileges for Veterans

Am I eligible for commissary and exchange privileges?

In the U.S., you may be eligible for commissary and exchange privileges if you meet one of the requirements listed below.

If you’re a Veteran or service member, one of these must be true. 


·      Have a service-connected disability rating and were honorably discharged, or

·      Are retired from military service, or

·      Are a former prisoner of war, or

·      Are a member of the Reserves, or

·      Have received a Purple Heart or the Medal of Honor

If you’re a family member, one of these must describe you. You’re the:

·      Surviving spouse of a service member (if you haven’t remarried), or

·      Primary family caregiver of an eligible Veteran (recognized under the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers), or

·      Dependent or survivor of an eligible service member, or

·      Dependent of an eligible member of the Reserves

Do I need to apply for commissary and exchange privileges?

You don’t need to apply, but you’ll need to have the right kind of ID at checkout. You can show your Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC) or a letter from VA along with your passport or driver’s license.

If you have questions, you can call 800-827-1000, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET.

Often, I’m asked if the prices are better on the base. In my opinion, and as a regular shopper at the Newport Navy Base, the prices are similar (except for sale items). The hidden benefit shopping at the base is all profits go back to supporting the troop programs at the base. Moreover, shopping at the base provides job opportunities for spouses and family member of those currently serving.

Now you know more about privileges as a veteran that you are entitled to.



Federal Hill Veterans Coffee House

January 3, 2023, 0900-1100 a.m. ROMA, Atwells Ave, Providence RI. All veterans and their guest are invited to the monthly Italian American War Veterans of the US sponsored coffee house. Enjoy ROMA’s Italian toast, pastries, and calzones throughout the gathering. 


RESOURCES & ongoing groups

Below are all the groups the Providence Vet Center is currently offering.  As this list changes, I will provide updates. Please send me any questions that you may have, thank you for your time!

*** All Vet Center Groups require that the Veteran be enrolled with the Vet Center prior to attending. To check eligibility or for questions, please contact the Vet Center at (401) 739-0167 or reach out to our Veteran Outreach Program Specialist (VOPS) via email at [email protected]***

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Group (PTSD) – 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. (Group is only active September through May)

Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) and Vietnam Veterans PTSD Group – 2nd and 4th  Wednesday of the month from 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

Vietnam Veteran PTSD Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 10:30 – 12:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Art Expression Group – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Group – Every Wednesday from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m.

Stress Management – Every Thursday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Low Impact Walking Group – Every Tuesday from 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.

Guitar 4 Veterans – Every Wednesday from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Monday Mindfulness Group – Every Monday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Yoga Group – Every Friday from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.

Moral Injury Group – Every Friday from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

Modern Warrior Support Group – 1st and 3rd Monday of the month from 2:30 – 4:00 pm.


Discounts for Veterans


No Problem Plumbing and Heating LLC 15% military discount, ask for Ron Gaynor, (401) 568-6666. Veterans must provide proof of eligibility with a VA Card, VA ID Card, or RI State license with veteran identification.


Applebee’s – Military Discount. With more than 2,000 locations, Applebee’s is a family grill restaurant. Applebee’s gives 10% off for active duty and veteran. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Denny’s – Hartford Ave, Johnston offers 10% discount for veterans and active duty. Denny’s is a table service diner-style restaurant chain. Last verified 07/31/2022.

Outback Steakhouse – 10% Discount to active and veterans. Last verified 07/28/2021

99 Restaurant & Pub – The 99 Restaurant & Pub offers a 10% military discount to members of Veterans Advantage. Available at select locations only. Bring valid military ID



Advance Auto Parts – 10% for Active Duty, Veterans, and families. Last verified 07/28/2021

Bass Pro Shops –  Offers a 5% discount to active-duty military, reservists, and National Guard. Sign up and verify your status online or bring your military ID when you shop at your nearest Bass Pro store (source).

BJs Wholesale – Reduced membership fee. BJ’s offers all military personnel over 25% off their Membership. Last verified 07/28/2021

Lowes – Enroll in the Lowe’s Military Discount Program to activate your 10% discount – “Our way of saying Thank You” to our active duty, retired and military veterans and their spouses with a 10% discount on eligible items. Verification of your military status is fast and easy through our partner, is our trusted technology partner in helping to keep your personal information safe.

GameStop – is offering a 10% in-store military discount on all pre-owned products, collectibles, and select new products. Available to current and former military members who bring any valid proof of service or when they verify through

Home Depot – Offers a 10% off military discount on regularly priced merchandise for in-store purchases for active duty, retired military, and reservists at participating locations. Customers are required to show a valid government-issued military ID card to redeem this offer.

Kohls – 15% discount offers for active military, veterans, retirees, and their immediate family members a 15% discount on purchases made on Mondays, in store only. In order to receive the military discount, eligible customers must present proper identification along with any tender type.

Jiffy Lube – HONORING VETERANS ALL DAY EVERY DAY! – We didn’t want to wait for Veteran’s Day to express our appreciation and gratitude for your service. That’s why every Team Car Care owned and operated Jiffy Lube® service center is offering our BEST discount of 15% OFF as a “Thank You” to the men and women of our Armed Forces for their service to our country. *Disclaimer*- I.D. required. No coupon is required. Excludes batteries and brakes, alignment, and diagnostic services. Available only at 3 select locations listed below:

Tioque Ave, Coventry RI – Bald Hill Road, Warwick RI – Park Ave, Cranston RI

Michaels – offers a 15% off military discount on the entire in-store purchase including sale items for active duty, retired military, guard, reservists, veterans, and family members. How to get –

1.    Create an Account. Log in or create a Michaels Rewards account.

2.    Get Verified. Provide your military information to get verified instantly.

3.    Go Shopping! To use your discount online and in store, just sign into your account or provide your Michaels Rewards phone number at checkout.

O’Reilly Auto Parts – 10% discount on in store items for Active Duty, Veterans and families. Last verified 3/4/21.


If you are a retailer and or a veteran aware of a business not listed above, please forward to:[email protected]:  the business’s name, location, and military and veteran discount offered.

If you have an event, meeting, other pertinent veteran information, or email questions or help needed, contact the Italian American War Veteran Service Officer, John A Cianci, [email protected], ITAM Office 1-(401)677-9VET(9838)


To read all columns in this series go to:

John A. Cianci is a Veteran Service Officer. Retired, U.S. Army MSgt., Persian Gulf War and Iraq War combat theater.

Cianci, a combat disabled Veteran, served in Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His awards include Bronze Star, Combat Action Badge, Good Conduct, and others.

Cianci belongs to numerous veterans organizations – Italian American War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign War, United Veterans Council of Rhode Island, and many more organizations. He is an active volunteer assisting veterans to navigate federal and state benefits they have earned. He is Department of Rhode Island Department Commander Italian American War Veterans and Veteran Service Officer.

He is a graduate of Roger Williams University (BS Finance), UCONN business school* (Entrepreneur Bootcamp for Veterans), Solar Energy International Residential, Commercial and Battery Based Photovoltaic Systems certificate programs, numerous certificates from the Department of Defense renewable energy programs, including graduate of the Solar Ready Vets Program.