At the end of this month, Department of Defense civilian retiree ID cards will no longer be valid.
This means that, unless action is taken, civilian retirees will no longer be allowed access to military installations such as Arnold Air Force Base.
The DOD announced in February that the issuance of new civilian retiree ID cards would be terminated immediately. Previously issued cards will remain valid through Aug. 31 and will not be reissued.
According to the DOD referendum released earlier this year, the move comes as a result of advancements in installation physical access control systems and procedures, as well as the impending implementation of the REAL ID Act.
The REAL ID Act establishes minimum security standards for license issuance and production and prohibits federal agencies from accepting for certain purposes driver’s licenses and identification cards from states not meeting the minimum standards of the act, according to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security. Beginning May 7, 2025, all persons must have a REAL ID license to access certain federal buildings, enter nuclear facilities and board commercial flights within the U.S.
REAL ID compliant driver’s licenses and identification credentials are marked with a gold circle containing a star in the right corner.
“As this transition takes place, there are basically two options for DOD civilian retirees to maintain base access,” said Keith Davis, Arnold AFB Security Forces S5/Plans and Programs. “All DOD civilian retirees who wish to enroll their REAL ID or obtain a Defense Biometric Identification System card are required to be vetted before issuance. The DBIDS can only be issued for one year.”
One way retired or retiring DOD civilians can continue to access Arnold is to register a REAL ID-compliant identification into the Defense Biometric Identification System, or DBIDS. To register, retirees should bring their Standard Form-50, referred to as the “Notification of Personnel Action” form, to the Arnold AFB Visitor Control Center. Once registered in the DBIDS at the Arnold Air Force Base Visitor Control Center, the retiree may present his or her driver’s license or other REAL ID-compliant identification at any entry gate to access the installation.
“This is the preferred method of access, and all civilian DOD retirees will eventually need to transition to this method,” Davis said.
The second option is a temporary measure, Davis said. Retiring or retired DOD civilians without a REAL ID Act-compliant identification may be issued a DBIDS card valid for one year. To register, retirees should bring their Standard Form-50 to the Arnold AFB Visitor Control Center. After registration, the DBIDS card can be used for base access.
Registering a REAL ID Act-compliant or issuance of a DBIDS card from the Arnold AFB Visitor Control Center only grants the cardholder access to Arnold AFB. DOD civilian retirees will need to register separately at each DOD installation they wish to access.
The implementation of the REAL ID Act has eliminated the requirement for the DOD civilian retiree ID card. These cards were introduced in 2009 to permit DOD civilian retiree entry at bases where installation commanders allowed such access for “morale, welfare and recreation activities.”
Those wishing to acquire a REAL ID Act-compliant identification should visit the website of the driver’s licensing agency in their home state to determine what documentation is required to obtain a REAL ID. At a minimum, documentation must be provided that shows full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number and lawful status.
“States may impose additional requirements, so check with your state’s driver’s license agency website before visiting them in person for additional guidance and assistance,” Davis said.
Davis added those civilian retirees who take the proper steps and check out following registration should experience no issues visiting Arnold AFB in the future.
“Our DOD civilian retirees should rest assured that they’ll be able to maintain access with either the REAL ID- or DBIDS-compliant identification upon required vetting,” he said.
For additional information, contact the Arnold AFB Visitor Control Center at 931-454-4010.