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Friday, October 16, 2015

TGBKA, Day 29: DEERS

DEERS

When service members get married, or have children, those humans become dependents and will be entered into the DEERS system as such. DEERS stands for Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. DEERS is a database for service members, retirees, dependents, etc. who are entitled to Tricare and other services with the military. DEERS is so important that I cannot go make changes to my own record without having Sweet Baboo there with me, or having a special power of attorney authorizing me to do things within DEERS. The POA has to spell out the specific duties that I can do, and the employee who actually inputs the information cannot deviate from what the POA spells out.

Earlier this calendar year, I lost my dependent ID card. In 10 years, I have never lost my ID card... I've temporarily forgotten where it was placed, but I had found it again before I had to leave the house. But in January I lost the card and despite having several friends tear my home apart looking for it, we could not find the card. I went to the DEERS office to get a new ID card (I live on post... I can't even go home after running errands without my ID card). I couldn't get a new card. Why? Because Sweet Baboo was TDY and the five POAs that I had in my binder weren't good enough. My general POA? Nope. The four special POAs that dealt with financial and medical decisions? Not even close. I needed a POA that specifically authorized me to get a new ID card. Sweet Baboo was in an Army school at the time that started when the sun came up, and didn't end until after the sun went down. Getting him to head over to the JAG office to snag me a POA was not feasible. I had to get an ID card that was good for 30 days, and return to the DEERS office the day after Sweet Baboo returned from his school to get a permanent ID card. DEERS is that important.

The ID cards are issued to dependents who are 10 or older. The Elder and the Wee have a running count down for their 10th birthday... they just can't wait to get their own ID card! When Sweet Baboo got orders to Korea, I asked him to get me the Special POA that authorizes me to get the Elder an ID card since he won't be around to take her in to get it when she turns 10. He did. And then he went to Korea. And we hunkered down for the year-long unaccompanied tour.

But then we got orders to join him, and we got so excited! When military families are stationed overseas, all dependents need an ID card. It has something to do with the ration cards at the commissary, and the status with the Embassy, and getting on the airplane using Official Orders... etc. etc. Honestly, when we were stationed in Guam years ago I didn't pay much attention to why I needed to get the ID card for the Elder (the Wee hadn't joined the family yet), I just got the card for her. I was told that I needed to get the ID cards for the girls again for Korea so I asked Sweet Baboo to get me another POA for the Wee to get an ID card. He did.

The Wee stole my fake eyeglasses for the day. She wanted to wear them for her ID card. Denied.
Armed with two Special POAs to get ID cards, orders to Korea, and two adorable kids who were excited to get their cards early, I set out to the DEERS office to check this block off my to-do list. Before I could finish the first explanation of what I was doing in the office, the lady at the front desk cut me off and said that the girls were not authorized an ID card until they turned 10. Oh boy. The back and forth again. I explained that when we were stationed overseas before, I needed to get an ID card for the Elder. She didn't care. She said that it isn't done any more. We went back and forth for several minutes before I finally asked, "Are you the actual employee who works in the DEERS office, or are you the person who gets me the ticket to be in line to wait to go talk to the person who works in the DEERS office?" She assured me that she worked in the DEERS office. But I knew that I was right, and that I would be wasting my time if I left the office only to have to go back up there again in the future. So I dug in my heels and asked her to show me the regulation that said only dependents who are 10 and older are authorized an ID card. She stared hard at me, turned around, and asked another employee to come over and explain to me the only 10+ year olds could have an ID card.

Employee 2 came over, listened to what I had to say, and said that I was right: dependents who are stationed overseas need to have ID cards. I couldn't help it. I looked at Employee 1 and smiled. I looked over at Employee 2 and asked if I could please get the ID card. Misunderstandings would soon abound! Employee 2 told me that they couldn't issue the overseas ID card to the kids because we are not overseas now. The only thing they could do was issue an ID card that was good for 5 days; that would "get us on the plane", and I could get the "permanent" one when we got to Korea. This posed a problem because our travel plans are such that the girls will be spending a couple of weeks with their grandparents (not in the area) just before we leave, and we won't be able to travel back to the DEERS office to get the ID cards before we got on the plane. Employee 1 kept telling me that I didn't need to worry about it, and I should just wait until I get to Korea to get the cards. I did lose my cool with her; I said that she needed to stop telling me to not worry about things. I needed people on this installation to do their jobs rather than spending so much energy getting out of doing their jobs. She stopped interjecting herself in the conversation. Eventually, Employee 2 went to the actual DEERS employees and asked what to do. At the end of it all, we left the building with ID cards for each of the girls. What an unnecessary hassle!

We weren't going to let the day end in frustration. Instead, we took selfies at the Resident Appreciation Festival on post. And this will be how I remember today: me and my girls!


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