A data coding problem that has prevented some newly eligible veterans and veteran caregivers from being able to use the Defense Department’s travel discount website should be fixed by Jan. 27, according to a DoD spokeswoman.

The issue affected “a small population” of the new patrons, said spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell. “Key DoD agencies are working together to resolve the issue, resulting in frequent system updates.”

AmericanForcesTravel.com is an official DoD site for travel discounts on airfare, flights, hotels, car rentals, travel packages and cruises. The site is connected to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, or DEERS, for authentication. Vendors must at least have a military exclusive price to be part of the website, but there are other additional properties and deals listed, too.

As of Jan. 1, about 4.1 million additional people are eligible to use that travel site, certain other morale, welfare and recreation programs, and to shop at commissaries and exchanges on installations. The new benefits were authorized by law for all veterans with VA service-connected disability ratings; Purple Heart recipients; veterans who are former prisoners of war; and primary family caregivers of eligible veterans under the VA caregiver program.

Defense and service officials had worked for months before Jan. 1 to set policies, adjust scanning systems at installation gates and in military stores, and make other preparations for to get ready for the new customers.

If you’re among this newly eligible group and can’t get access to American Forces Travel after Jan. 27, Maxwell said, you should contact them through Facebook messenger at https:www.facebook.com/AFTMWR/.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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