In another step toward achieving full integration of the active and reserve military components, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen has announced that identification (ID) cards for all active component and Reserve active status U.S. military personnel will now be the same color green.
This initiative, which will be phased in over a two to five year period that could begin as early as June 1998, calls for changing the color of the Reserve active status forces identification card (DD Form 2 (Reserve)) from red to green. Reserve active status forces include members of the Selected Reserve, the Individual Ready Reserve, and the active Standby Reserve. Only the color of the card held by these members of the Reserve components will change; there will be no associated changes to current service benefits, privileges and entitlements, unless a change in status occurs.
The change responds to a pledge made by Cohen in a recent policy memorandum, calling on the civilian and military leadership of the Department of Defense to eliminate "all residual barriers structural and cultural" to effective integration of the Reserve and active components into a "seamless Total Force."
Implementing instructions from the Services must be coordinated and published prior to issuing green ID cards to eligible Reserve members. The only ID card being affected is the DD Form 2 (Reserve). The color of all other Uniformed Services Identification Cards will remain as they currently are.
The red identification card has been the primary card used by members of the Reserve who are not on active duty or full-time National Guard duty. Red identification cards (DD Form 2 (reserve retired) will continue to be issued to 'gray-area retirees' members of the Retired Reserve who have not reached age 60. Family members of Reservists will also continue to receive the red (DD Form 1173-1) ID card.
All active status Reserve component personnel will now be eligible to carry a green ID card, which will identify the member's Reserve component service in the upper right-hand corner of the card. The seven Reserve components are the: Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Naval Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and Coast Guard Reserve.
Among the many considerations taken into account by DoD officials when authorizing the change were medical benefits and commissary privilegestwo primary areas in which active and Reserve personnel have different entitlements. An ID card alone does not automatically authorize access to medical benefits or commissary privileges, both of which will continue to require additional documentation to allow members of the Reserve components to receive them.
Eligibility checks for medical benefits are now performed by electronic validation prior to each inpatient and outpatient visit to Military Health Services System facilities. Consequently, the system check, not the ID card, will continue to verify patient eligibility.
Currently, active duty personnel have unlimited access to the commissaries; Selected Reserve personnel are entitled by law to 12 visits per year. With both active and Reserve component personnel soon to be carrying green ID cards, commissary personnel will be reviewing identification cards more closely. The commissary access card, used for validating Reservists' 12 authorized visits, will remain in place.
For more information, news media representatives are encouraged to contact the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, Lt. Col. Terry Jones at (703) 695-3620.