Grace’s preschool sent home a monthly newsletter today, and in the section for her class, it stated that the song “I Am Special” has become a favorite of the children.
Well, no duh. Grace sings it constantly. It’s a catchy tune, but it gets old after the kabillionth time you’ve heard it.
Yesterday Kurt came home from work at lunch and says to me, “Did you know that our ID cards expire tomorrow??” I was in such shock, I just sort of blinked at him. Finally I found my voice and exclaimed, “Are you kidding me????”
You see, a military person’s ID card is like another limb. You just don’t leave home without it. Ever. It’s what allows us to get on base, to shop at the commissary, and to shop at the Navy Exchange. It also functions as our insurance card, so we have to show it when going to the ER or even on a routine visit to the doctor.
You can’t get away with an expired ID card either. People are very vigilant about paying attention to the expiration date. There was a gate guard at the base in Washington that would announce your ID card’s expiration to you every single time you came through the gate. This morning when we came on base, the gate guard scrutinized Kurt’s ID and informed him that it expired today. If it had already expired, the gate guard has the right to confiscate your card — which makes life very difficult in trying to get a new one since now you can’t even get on base!
After I finished freaking out yesterday, Kurt called Personnel Support Detachment (aka, PSD — because the Navy makes acronyms out of everything) to make an appointment to get new ID cards. I was so afraid they wouldn’t be able to squeeze us in, especially after all the horror stories I’d heard about this PSD. “Bring snacks!” I’d heard. “It’ll take you a good two or three hours to get a new ID card, even with an appointment!!”
Add to that my amazing talent in shutting down the DEERS system, which is the system used to process ID cards and anything having to do with a serviceperson’s family members. Every other time I’ve gone to get a new ID card in the last ten years, the system has completely bogged down. In fact, one time DEERS crapped out entirely, and the computers had to be rebooted after each and every ID card was made. It took forty-five minutes to bring each computer back online after a reboot.
Yeah, I was there for six hours, trying to get my ID card made. But I had to wait!! I was returning to college the next day, and without a valid ID card, I had no health insurance.
So it was with some trepidation that I entered PSD this morning at 9am. Fortunately, none of the horror stories came true today, and I managed not to screw up the DEERS system!
We were in and out of there in just about an hour, and that included getting Kurt’s ID card made. The IDs for active-duty servicemembers are more complicated, as they feature an encrypted chip on the front of the card. Right now, the chip only contains the log-in information so that Kurt can use the computer at his office, but the idea is that later down the road, the chip will contain much more information — even perhaps the person’s entire service record.
Not only that, but Kurt had to give his fingerprints while his ID card was being made! Not with paper and ink, but using a fingerprint-reader connected to the computer of the PSD worker. Talk about cool! I want to have my fingerprints taken to assure the folks making the ID card that I am who I say I am!!!
Alas, mine is still the peach-colored laminated piece of paper, the same ID card that I have had since I was two years old. What is cool about my new ID is that my social security number is no longer printed on it! I had just been telling Kurt that it would really suck if I ever lost my ID card, what with the fact that both of our social security numbers are printed on it. But now mine is not there! It just says, “SSN On File” in the space where my number had once been printed.
Of course, Kurt’s number is still there. I’m not quite sure why. I think they should go to the last four digits of the serviceperson’s social security number. That’s what most folks need from me anyhow to verify that I am indeed Kurt’s dependent. Only sometimes will they ask me for the entire thing, and even then, I don’t mind being asked. I just would prefer it not to be printed on something I could easily lose.
His social security number isn’t even printed on his ID card! Go figure! It’s encoded somewhere on there, but it’s not printed. Hmph.
They’ve also made a few slight changes to the active duty ID card. The US Navy seal is now a watermark, instead of an opaque image, and “Department of Defense” is written in wavy lines as a background. Also the photo is bigger on the new card. It looks really cool! I wish the dependent cards were so nifty.
I feel so much better having a new ID card. I won’t have to get a replacement until 2010 — or unless Kurt gets promoted.
Now I almost hope he doesn’t make Senior Chief this year! Ha ha — just kidding. It would be awesome if he made Senior Chief, new ID cards notwithstanding.