Military family members whose identification cards expired during the pandemic should make appointments to renew their IDs now, the Pentagon is advising.
Roughly a half-million DoD ID card holders -- mainly family members of active-duty, Reserve and National Guard members, as well as retirees and their dependents under age 65 -- were allowed to use expired IDs through much of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
But now these dependents and former service members must renew their cards, with deadlines fast approaching for most, according to a Pentagon news release issued Friday.
A month after the pandemic began last year, DoD officials issued guidance on the use of expired ID cards in an effort to minimize exposure and reduce appointments at ID card offices on military installations.
The DoD extended the deadlines several times, most recently in June. Under the latest guidance, dependents of active-duty, Guard and Reserve members whose ID cards expired before July 31, 2021, have until Oct. 31, 2021, to get a new ID card.
Retirees and family members whose cards expired before the end of July face a deadline of Jan. 31, 2022.
Beneficiaries whose cards expired after July 31, 2021, and who haven't yet renewed, should do so immediately or face the loss of benefits (with the exception of health care), Stephen Wellock of the Defense Manpower Data Center said in a press release.
"You have no extension, your ID card is expired," Wellock said. "You need to get it replaced, for both active duty, Guard and Reserve dependents, and for retirees."
ID card office locations can be found and appointments made on the DoD's ID Card Office website.
The deadlines do not apply to anyone holding a Common Access Card or an ID card with an indefinite expiration date -- generally retirees and family members age 65 and older.
One of the biggest changes instituted to ID cards regulations under the COVID-19 pandemic guidelines -- the age requirement for dependent children to get their first ID card -- is here to stay, according to DoD guidance and Pentagon officials.
Gone is the rite-of-passage, 10th birthday trek to the ID card office, replaced by an appointment for most beneficiaries when they turn 14.
"Current policy is 14 and will remain 14 moving forward," DoD spokesman Army Maj. Charlie Dietz confirmed to Military.com.
Some military dependents below that age will continue to need a DoD ID card, however, as they remain a requirement to travel via Patriot Express for those ages 10 and up.
Retirees and family members seeking new ID cards are likely to receive newly designed cards similar in look to the Common Access Cards used by active-duty service members and DoD civilians.
The new cards feature advanced security measures that make them less susceptible to counterfeiting and are more durable than the previous laminated cards.
The DoD encourages family members and retirees to look beyond their local installation if they need to make an appointment for a new ID card, as facilities are likely to be busy.
According to the DoD, "there are many locations that can handle renewals, and many provide a 'walk-in' service capability."
Each DoD ID card facility is managed and operated by the installation command.
-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.