Base access changes affect thousands locally, millions nationally

Department of Defense changes mean dependents of some civilian employees will no longer be able to gain access to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base when their identification cards expire.

But other recent rule changes mean millions more nationally — and more than 7,000 people in the Dayton area — will be able to get access military bases.

“A key Department of Defense publication regarding issuing identification cards has undergone a recent change, and no longer provides the authority to issue ID cards to dependents of civilian employees and dependents of retired civilian employees,” a public affairs office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base said in an email to the Dayton Daily News.

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“As a result of this change, WPAFB stopped issuing ID cards to these groups, and no longer renews those cards upon expiration,” that message added. “Installation access can still be requested and granted through a short-term pass after the completion of proper vetting and identity proofing.”

Base officials could not tell the Dayton Daily News the reason behind the change, but said questions about the process can be directed to the base’s Visitor’s Center at (937) 257-6264.

A base spokesman, James Mitchell, wasn’t certain how long the change affecting dependents of civilian employees and retired civilian employees has been in place.

“That’s one of the things we’re trying to figure out — not only when, but why,” Mitchell said.

He couldn’t say if the directive had any impact on base traffic, and he was unable to estimate how many people the policy may impact.

The order and the directive originated with the the Department of Defense.

Controlling access to the base and maintaining security at Wright-Patterson remains the highest priority for base leaders.

“I can tell you the safety and the security of the installation is the first priority of the installation commander,” Mitchell said.

A 2016 article by the 75th Security Forces Squadron, at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, references a similar change, saying the rule change is “omitting authority to issue ID cards to dependents of civilian employees and dependents of retired civilian employees.

“Effective immediately, Hill AFB will no longer issue long-term DBIDS IDs to dependents of civilian employees and dependents of retired civilian employees based solely on dependency,” that 2016 article said. “IDs currently in issue will be considered valid until the expiration date is reached.”

Other rule changes are allowing more people a way on to Wright-Patterson and other military bases.

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Starting Jan. 1, all service-connected disabled veterans, Purple Heart recipients, former prisoners of war and primary veteran caregivers will be eligible to shop at commissaries and exchanges, the Military Times reported last year.

On Dec. 16, Wright-Patterson began pre-registering eligible veterans for that access, including the use of the base commissary and military exchange, which offers discounted goods.

The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act allows veterans with service-connected disabilities and their caregivers, Purple Heart recipients, Medal of Honor recipients and former prisoners of war, the option to use some installation facilities and services, Wright-Patterson said in an article last month.

“The population of eligible personnel that reside within one hour of WPAFB is estimated at 7.4K,” Patrick Poth, plans and program chief, 88th Security Forces Squadron, said. “It is unknown what number of that population already has access to WPAFB.”

Veterans who are eligible need to have a “Veterans Health Identification Card” or VHIC. Primary Family Caregivers must have an eligibility letter from VA’s Office of Community Care.

Veterans must be enrolled in the VA health care system to receive a VHIC. To enroll, call 1 (877) 222-8387 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Eastern. You can also apply for VA health care benefits online at www.va.gov/healthbenefits/enroll, or in person at your local VA medical facility.

For questions about access to Wright-Patterson, veterans may call the Security Forces Squadron Pass and ID section at (937) 257-6264.

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