Family Matters Blog: Managing military ID cards just got easier
WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2012 – The Defense Manpower Data Center is making it easier for service members and their families to get and maintain identification cards.
The center has launched its RAPIDS -- Real-time Automated Personnel Identification System -- self-service portal to allow anyone with the Defense Department’s common access card, or CAC, to apply for family ID or retirement cards or update dependents’ statuses online.
“It’s really exciting,” Mary Dixon, the center’s director, said. “We’ve been working for some time now to try to improve and transform our whole ID card application process so people can do things online and not spend long hours going to a site and waiting to be seen.”
The change may seem procedural, but its impact will be big for those who, without it, have had to spend countless hours waiting in line with their families to get ID cards. Before RAPIDS, service members, retirees and families had to go together to a Defense Manpower Data Center to submit an application form and wait while the ID card is being made, Dixon said.
“This is big project,” she said. “It takes away time from your work, and if you are separated – maybe the spouse is out on a ship or on deployment or your child is away at college – it makes it a huge problem.”
Now, the CAC holder can go onto the RAPIDS site, call up the listing of their dependents, and fill out and digitally sign form No. 1172-2 for their family members to receive an ID card. That family member then can go alone to the closest DMDC office – they are are listed on the website and linked to Google Maps for driving directions -- to pick up the card, Dixon said.
RAPIDS is a win for both the department and families, the director said. “You can do this from your desk,” she said. “As long as your computer is CAC-enabled, it could be from your home or office. You can do it without going to a physical site, which is huge.”
The site also allows you to get a DOD self-service user name and password, known as a DS Logon, that allows you to access several DOD and VA websites with the logon information, rather than a CAC. DS Logon, which is available only to CAC holders, also has a “premium account,” which gives the highest level of access, allowing you to view personal data about yourself in the DOD and VA systems, apply for benefits online, check the status of your claims and update your address records. You must apply in person for the premium account.
DMDC will continue to expand its self-service options to include changing email certificates and information about family members, Dixon said. The upgrades include an effort to put the fingerprints of new recruits into the system, so lost paperwork can easily be replaced, she said.
Dixon said she hopes the site also will one day include alerts for when an ID card is about to expire, and will be integrated with DMDC’s MilConnect website to access all DOD and Veterans Affairs benefits.
“We still have to have the face-to-face, which is important for legitimate ID proofing,” she said. “But we’re saying, ‘What are the ways to reduce the time you spend at the sites?’”