“You know your ID card expires at the end of this month,” the Soldier at the gate asked me as I entered Fort Bragg.

No. I didn’t. I thanked him and continued onto the installation as a feeling of dread crept over me. I was going to have to clear a whole day with my boss so that I could sit for hours at the ID Card Facility just to get a new card.

Did you know that many walk-in customers at the facility could wait up to three hours? Who has the time to sit in a lobby, waiting to hear your name called to get a new ID card, just so you can come on post? Not me and not you. And the facility agrees.
Starting Monday, the facility will no longer take walk-ins. The main identification card facility located at the Soldier Support Center will be an “appointment only system.” The change affects all customers, military servicemembers, Family members, civilian work force, contractors and retirees.

The facility has been taking appointments for a while, but many customers still chose to walk-in. Did you know that walk-in customers on average waited 37.5 minutes to get their cards while those with appointments got theirs within 18.4 minutes?
Pretty impressive numbers, if you ask me.

At first, I was skeptical. Was this appointment-only system going to be like trying to get an appointment at one of the clinics? Call for an appointment and get the soonest date next month? But I was pleasantly surprised. I went onto www.bragg.army.mil/directorates/HR/Pages and signed up for an appointmen. I could have gotten an appointment the following day, but opted for Friday. You can also call 643-2737 to set up an appointment between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are also kiosks in the lobby to make appointments.

I arrived to my appointment 15 minutes early. I tried to sign in, but wasn’t allowed to because you can only sign in 10 minutes early. So, I sat down and surfed the web on my smart phone for five minutes. When my 10-minute window approached, I signed in, sat back down and prepared to wait. Two minutes later, or barely enough time for me to pull my phone back out of my purse, take a sip of my ice tea and smile at a baby sitting on the lap of her mother across from me, my name was called. No joke. I waited a total of seven minutes (adding the five I had to wait to be able to sign in and the two of actual wait). It was the quickest I had ever waited at the facility.

The facility’s goal is to have a new ID card in your hand in 30 minutes. I didn’t exactly keep track, but I know it was quick and I was impressed.

A task that I normally dread, was turned into a quick and efficient process for me to be legit once again.

Here are a few tips to remember when renewing your ID card or setting up any other appointment for the facility:

• Remember to set up an appointment 30 days prior to the expiration of your card. When the implementation of the appointment-only system begins, the facility can’t guarantee that you’d be as lucky as I and get an appointment the following day. You can sign in 10 minutes prior to your appointment.

• A separate appointment must be made for each individual receiving an ID card or DEERS enrollment.  For example, a Family of three should make three separate, consecutive appointments to ensure enough time is allocated to process the entire Family and not affect other appointments.

• Ensure you have two forms of ID when renewing and/or have all the paperwork you need to set up new cards for dependents.

For a complete list of what paperwork is needed, call 643-2737 or visit their web site at www.bragg.army.mil/directorates/HR/personnel/Pages/IDCard.aspx.

• Emergency customers are seen on a case-by-case basis. Even though you may be considered an emergency customer, appointments will still take priority.

• Once you make an appointment, keep it. If you cannot make the appointment, call 643-2737 to cancel or reschedule.

With the appointment-only system in effect, the facility hopes to reduce customer wait times and improve their experience. For example, without the appointment system, the facility processes an average of 286 customers a day.  With the appointment system, they expect to process 336 customers a day.   What does that mean for you? That means you’ll be able to get an ID card quicker, allowing you to also eat, shop and maybe take a nap before you have to go back to work during your lunch hour. Sounds pretty enticing. And having been through the process myself, I’m all for it.