A Change I Would Like To See


I usually try not to complain, but darn it, I am cranky. And it seems such a simple problem. And I'm sure I'm not the only military family member who has been frustrated by it.

One of my children recently turned 10 and therefore is required to get a military ID. The ID offices nearby are only open during school hours, and I thought it sensible to wait a few weeks until a school holiday before getting her ID.

Of course, she needed to go to medical before we got the ID. (Medical is also only open during school hours, but that's another issue. I've got lots of issues today.) I got a little scolding from the medical staff, and instructions on how easy it would be to go over to the ID office and they'd "just make her an ID." Hmm, really? I don't think so, but we'll see.

Since I am magically unable to vouch for her identity once she reaches 10 years of age, I had to fill out and sign a form stating that I would, within 30 days, obtain an ID and present it to the Patient Administration Division (whatever that is) or I would be billed $270 for her medical visit. I felt a little irritated by this but it is the system and I'll try to work within it.

After her 5 minutes with the doctor, we went to the ID office where I was properly informed that in order to issue an ID I would need two forms of ID for the child, plus my IDs and Power of Attorney. Unfortunately, I don't usually carry those things around with me. I did the calculations and decided that we still had plenty of time to get the ID, present it to medical, and not be billed.

On the school holiday, I called the nearest ID office to check their hours (1200-1500) and verify that I had all the necessary documents. We arrived around 1130 and signed in as #3 on the list. I was hoping that things would be quick because I had a class at 1300. They began calling people some time after 1200 and the first person only took about 10 minutes - I might make my class! When we were called, I presented all the documents and was informed that I would need to provide her social security number. I don't carry that on me, but my grandfather keeps a list handy for just these situations. While standing at the counter, directly in view of the sailor working there, I telephoned my grandfather and got her number. After the call was ended, I was informed that they didn't need just the number, I would need to provide the actual social security card. Really? And you couldn't tell me that at any point prior to now? While you watched and listened to me make this call?

I could go off onto some long rant about why the Department of Defense wants to keep a scanned copy of my family's social security cards on file, but that's not a fight I have the energy to deal with right now. I just need to get my child an ID and I need to do it quickly.

We return home (there goes my chance of making class today) and pull out the bag-o-important documents. For some reason, all our social security cards are missing. After checking the top 20 places that they might have gone, we quickly go to the local Social Security Administration office in search of new cards. Several hours later, all new cards are ordered and we expect to get them within two weeks. My concern was fairly evident but the representative assured me that the military would accept the receipts in lieu of the actual cards. By this time, I'm unsure, but fortunately I don't have to find out because our new cards arrive just 2 days later!

My husband has come home on R&R and since we're now functioning as a two adult household, we decide to take my daughter to the next closest base on Monday. Their hours are 0730 to 0330 and if we get there at 7, we might be able to get her back to school without missing too much instructional time. Mid-day Friday, we realize that Monday is a federal holiday. We quickly gather up the documents and my husband runs off to pull my daughter out of school and get her over to the ID office with time to spare. On a hunch, I call the ID office to triple check that we've got all our ducks in a row. The person answering the phones informs me that they're not issuing any more IDs today - they've just been too busy.

I can't even decide which step of this adventure is the most aggravating. We are making a serious effort to comply with the requirements of the military without taking our child out of school to do it and it feels like the military is trying its hardest to make this impossible. Without even getting into the greater issues that have come up, it just shouldn't be this hard to get your kid an ID.

If any of you know any tricks for making this process less painful, let me know. I'd love to hear. And thanks for letting me vent.

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