When your spouse joins the military, there’s a lot going on! You’re separated while they are at their basic military training, and they’re learning new things, and then there’s the military world to figure out. Or, your new spouse is already in the military and you’re learning a whole new life all at once! One of the first steps as a military spouse is getting your Department of Defense Uniformed Services Identification card, usually called your military ID.
If you were married when your spouse left for their basic military training, they should have taken all the documentation to get you set up in the military’s benefit tracking system, called the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System, or DEERS.
What You’ll Need To Get A Military ID Card
To receive a military ID card, you will need proof of your eligibility and proof of identity.
Once your spouse gets set up at their training, they or their command will send you a DD Form 1172-2, Application Form for Identification Card/DEERS Enrollment. It looks like this:
The DD Form 1172-2 is generally good for 90 days from the date it is signed. If you are unable to complete the process in 90 days, you will need to wait until your service member is with you, or get a new DD Form 1172-2.
In addition to the DD Form 1172-2, you will need your marriage certificate and personal identification. The rules say that you need two valid, unexpired forms of identification, but I’d bring more just in case one doesn’t work out. No sense making an extra trip if you don’t have to!
One of your forms of identification must come from this list:
- Drivers license or an identification card issued by a state or possession of
the United States, must contain a photograph
- U.S. Passport or a U.S. Passport Card
- Permanent Resident Card or an Alien Registration Receipt Card (Form I-551)
- Foreign passport
- Employment Authorization Document that contains a photograph (Form I-766)
- U.S. Military ID card
- U.S. Military dependent’s ID card
The second document may come from this list:
- U.S. Social Security Card issued by the Social Security Administration
- Original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by a state, county,
municipal authority, possession, or outlying possession of the United States
bearing an official seal
- ID card issued by a federal, state, or local government agency or entity,
provided it contains a photograph
- Voter’s registration card
- U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card
- Certificate of U.S. Citizenship (Form N-560 or N-561)
- Certificate of Naturalization (Form N-550 or N-570)
- U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
- Identification Card for Use of Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
- Certification of Birth Abroad or Certification of Report of Birth issued by the
Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
- Temporary Resident Card (Form I-688)
- Employment Authorization Card (Form I-688A)
- Reentry Permit (Form I-327)
- Refugee Travel Document (Form I-571)
- Employment authorization document issued by Department of Homeland
- Employment Authorization Document issued by DHS with photograph (Form I688B)
- Foreign ID with photograph
- Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government entity
- Native American tribal document
Where To Go To Get Your Military ID Card
You will need to take this form to an ID card office. You do not have to go to an ID office for your branch of service – you can go to any ID office. The ID offices can be called different names depending on the branch. They might be called Pass and ID, or the RAPIDS office, or the DEERS office, or something else.
To find the office nearest you, go to the online ID Card Office Locator. Enter your zip code. If you don’t find an office within your immediate area, increase the distance a little until you find something.
Once you’ve found that, give them a call. Ask if they require an appointment or if you can come without an appointment. If they do accept walk-ins without an appointment, find out if there are certain days or hours. Ask their hours. Ask for specific directions to their location – GPS and online maps don’t always work on military bases. Inquire if you will need to pass through a security gate, if you’ll have to get a visitors pass, or if there is a certain specific thing to tell the gate guards.
If they require an appointment, you may be able to make it while you are on the phone, or you may have to go back to the ID Card Office Locator to make the appointment.
Making The Trip To Get Your Military ID Card
Once you have the required documentation to get your ID, and an appointment or the walk-in hours, be sure that you know where you are going, and allow extra time for delays. Busy offices may not take you if you are late.
Be sure that you have your driver’s license, vehicle registration, and insurance card available to show the gate guard or present to get a pass to get on base.
Be prepared to have your photograph taken. I know that seems obvious but sometimes in all the fuss of getting the documents, it gets forgotten. You should see some of the ID pictures I have had over the years!
Make sure you have plenty of time in your schedule that day – sometimes offices get backed up. If you have to bring children with you, have something to keep them entertained and food or drinks, if necessary.
Getting your military ID will give you installation access, allow you to use the commissary and exchange retail locations, and give your medical providers the necessary information to process claims for your medical care under your Tricare coverage. You don’t have to get your ID immediately, but you may want to get it as soon as practical, especially if you are counting on it for your medical coverage. You have coverage without the card, but your doctors will find it easier to bill Tricare with the information from your ID.
Welcome to the fun and slightly crazy world of all things military!
As always, if you learn something new during your experience, reach out and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. Together we can help the next person facing this question!
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