New regulations allow some veterans use of base MWR facilities, programs
A new congressional act will allow some veterans access to military bases, including the local Naval Support Activity Crane base.
As of Jan. 1, 2020, the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (DAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 allows service-disabled veterans, former prisoners of war and Purple Heart recipients, in addition to VA-designated caregivers, access to most MWR (morale, welfare and recreation) facilities and programs on base.
The Greene County Daily World reached out to NSA Crane Public Affairs Officer Jeffree Nagan to provide a more detailed explanation of what this access means for local veterans.
Nagan said after the approval of the DAA, Crane leadership met to discuss what exactly that means for impacted veterans and how they can best utilize their access to the base.
“NSA Crane cares about those who serve. Whether they served two years or 20 years, we want to give them a place to take advantage of the opportunities available to them,” Nagan explained.
The DAA gives veterans and designated caregivers access to non-appropriate funded programs, which includes most MWR facilities on base.
In addition to the programs laid out in the DAA, Crane leadership have also extended some availabilities to the approved veterans, such as access to Lake Greenwood, which includes camping, cabins and boating. With a state-issued fishing license and the MWR-issued fishing permits available on base, the approved veterans will be able to fish on the lake. They must check in and out of the kiosk in the Environmental Education Center
“Under the act, fishing is not prohibited, but it’s also not offered,” Nagan said, noting this was an added benefit put in place by Crane leadership.
Another added privileged included at Crane base is archery hunting.
“NSA Crane is known in the area as a good place to hunt. Though it is not included under this act, our leadership wanted to extend hunting privileges. Though, it is only archery and in designated areas,” Nagan explained. “This is something we think many veterans will take advantage of.”
The individual must have a state-issued hunting license and MWR-issued hunting permit.
The DAA also allows access to the VA Telehealth Clinic on base, which is a satellite clinic that allows veterans to meet with medical professionals without making the long drive to the closest VA clinic.
“This is not a full clinic. It is meant to make acute diagnoses without having to make the trip to a VA clinic,” Nagan explained.
Veterans must already be approved to enter the base under the DAA, and have to make an appointment before visiting the clinic by calling 317-988-2514.
In addition, the DAA allows the approved veteran to sponsor up to three individuals who are not disabled veterans to come on base with the individual or approved healthcare provider. Nagan explained this means the veteran can bring along the designated caregiver plus up to three others, but the veteran has to bee with the sponsored individuals at all times and the veteran is responsible for their actions.
Nagan noted as NSA Crane familiarizes itself with the impact of the DAA on the base, they may make adjustments without notice to ensure the security of the base.
How can veterans gain access to base?
While the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (DAA) for Fiscal Year 2019 allows local veterans access to military bases, including the local Naval Support Activity Crane, there are some steps to take before gaining access.
NSA Crane Public Affairs Officer Jeffree Nagan provided information upon request regarding the steps to gain access specifically to NSA Crane.
First, the qualifying veteran, which includes service-disabled veterans, former prisoners of war and Purple Heart recipients, must have a Veterans Health Identification Card (VHIC) issued by the VA. Nagan noted it is important for the VHIC to show their eligibility status in order to qualify under the DAA. In addition, designated caregivers for disabled veterans must obtain an eligibility letter from the VA.
Nagan noted most of the access and information needed apply to both the approved veteran and VA-designated caregiver.
These individuals must also go through processing and vetting before being approved access to the base. In order to start processing, the veteran and caregiver must go to the NSA Crane Visitors Center during business hours, and bring along two forms of identification, which can include their VHIC and/or driver’s license, and complete a SECNAV form 5512/1.
Veterans, as well as caregivers, will then have a background check that includes the sex offender registry, NCIC, FBI and criminal history to search for any active warrants. In addition, There will be a Department of Defense debarment order check.
If driving on the base, the individual must also have their driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.
For veterans and their caregivers, the vetting process must be redone annually.
If a non-veteran or caregiver is being sponsored, they must also meet the same criteria and fill out the SECNAV form 5512/1, but they must be vetted every 180 days at the Visitors Center or Crane Gate
Once all of the criteria is met, approved veterans, under the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, will have access to commissary and exchange, and most Moral, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) opportunities on base.