Story by Christina Smith

Are you a National Guard or Reserve family member without a valid military ID?  Do you think you will have plenty of time to get one if needed for a deployment?  Don’t put it off any longer! You never know when your service member will be deployed. This is especially true for National Guardsmen, who can be activated for state emergencies with no warning, including after natural disasters like tornadoes and flooding.  ID cards are the key to unlocking valuable benefits such as healthcare, education benefits, and access to active duty facilities including the commissary and post/base exchanges.  But they can provide so much more! Not only are they a great form of identification, but they can also be used in your local community to access discounts at a variety of stores, movie theaters, attractions, and restaurants. Check out our Blue Star Deals for examples.

Not sure how to get your ID card? Follow these steps:

Enroll or confirm enrollment in DEERS.

Before receiving an ID, you must first be enrolled in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS).  The DEERS enrollment and ID card issuance process consists of several steps to ensure the correct ID card is issued and the appropriate benefits and privileges are assigned.


Find your nearest Rapids/ID location.

You do not have to go to an active duty base or to the armory or base where your servicemember drills to enroll in DEERS or obtain an ID. In fact, you can go to any Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System (RAPIDS) location regardless of branch of service. For example, if your service member is part of the Army National Guard, you could go to the Naval Reserve Center that’s closer to your house.  The easiest way to find the facility closest to you is with this online locator.

Determine what documents will be required.

Once you determine your nearest facility, follow this checklist to determine which documents you need to bring with you. If this part seems confusing, I would highly recommend giving the facility a quick call to ensure you have the proper documents for your appointment.  If you don’t have what you need, you will likely be turned away.

Schedule an appointment and confirm your appointment.

It is important to pay close attention to the facility hours.  Some facilities only issue ID cards on certain days or times.  Some require appointments and others operate solely on a first come/first served basis. Additionally, I highly recommend giving the facility a quick call on the day of your visit or appointment to confirm that everything is working (computers, ID machine, etc.) and that you have all documents necessary to proceed.  Save yourself the heartache of a wasted trip, especially if you’re traveling from far away.


Obtain your ID and start using your benefits.

You have your ID – now start using it! There are all sorts of opportunities for discounts and specials for National Guard and Reserve families, including several Blue Star Families’ programs such as:

  • Blue Star Museums – Grants free admission to military families at select museums across the country from Memorial Day to Labor Day!
  • Blue Star Parks – As a military family, you already help protect our national treasures. Now it’s your turn to go out and explore them and your admission is free! Military families can visit over 2,000 national parks and federal recreation centers at no cost by going to a Federal Recreation site and getting the America the Beautiful park pass. Just obtain your pass before visiting the parks.
  • Blue Star Theatres – A collaboration between Theatre Communications Group and Blue Star Families. Each Blue Star Theatres participant is offering discounted or complimentary admission to all military personnel and their families.

Enjoy your opportunities and get your military family involved today.