Sunday, February 28, 2010

DEERS Enrollment, US Embassy Manila -- 11.04.09

Having a husband always has its benefits. Not only do you have a life partner, a best friend and a lover all rolled into one, but also you get to officially spend the rest of your life with him.

What's even better is that you also get to be a dependent to health benefits for having an active duty military spouse.

In order to receive such benefits, the sponsor must immediately enroll/register eligible family members to Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS). After family members are registered, they can update personal information such as addresses and phone numbers.

The only way for us to accomplish this task is to rush down US Embassy Manila to have myself registered in their database. We were not able to immediately go to the embassy on the day after the wedding, which we originally have planned, because they only process such applications on the 1st Wednesday of each month. It was fortunate for us to have our wedding fall a week earlier, like things fell really in its place.


So we planned the embassy visit and set the date for November 4. Again, we woke up during the wee hours of morning to be able to queue up at the gates along Roxas boulevard at around 5AM. Luckily, D was second in line specifically for American citizens, while I simply stayed at the Starbucks across the embassy for my morning coffee. This was also the day when the 2010 Starbucks Planner was launched. Hence, I got a free sticker for being one of the first customers! :)

At around 6:30am, I went to where D was lined up as they would be opening the gates at 7:00AM. If you're wondering why we have to put up with this is because they only process applications on a first-come-first served basis. US Embassy Manila is one of the busiest US embassies in the world so just imagine how many people would queue up each day to have visa applications and other consular services processed.

It is important to bring your passport when entering the US embassy for identification purposes, otherwise, you will not be allowed to get inside.

You are to bring at least 2 valid IDs (not really required, but recommended), other than the passport. Why?

  1. Electronic devices such as cellphones are not allowed inside. One must leave electronic gadgets at the front desk, along with a valid ID, and a claim stub will be given. Now, you wouldn't want your passport to be your claim stub just for your stuff, wouldn't you? (**UPDATE: leaving electronic gadgets are NOT ALLOWED anymore, so don't bring them). 
  2. The Social Security and Veterans' Affairs section would ask you to leave an ID and a visitor's pass/ID will be given upon entering its premises.
You may bring your SSS, TIN or any of the government-recognized valid IDs, so that you can still keep your passport with you.

Most importantly, a personal appearance by the sponsor (in this case, my husband), is a must. Not bringing your sponsor may give you A LOT of additional requirements.


We needed to go to window 3 in the Social Security and Veteran's Affairs section for the DEERS/RAPIDS ID Card. Again, they're open on a 'first come, first served' basis, with only limited slots available.  They would normally allow only 30 applicants per day. It was indeed vital to get included in those 30 slots, otherwise, you'd have to wait another month to get this done. Much to my delight, we were 3rd in queue. Their office officially opens at 8:00am, but you are free get in the embassy by 7:00am. (**UPDATE: Now, you will have to schedule for an APPOINTMENT by going to http://manila.usembassy.gov/wwwhju18.html. All the UPDATED information are there, but most are still pretty much the same).

Make sure to bring along valid documents to prove your relationship. You are required to bring your NSO copy of the birth certificate. Recently married couples also need to present the ORIGINAL copy of the marriage certificate. They do accept even the one that came from the Local Civil Registry (LCR), as long as it's original. The ID guy will only ask you to come back some other time with an original copy in case you just brought a photocopied one, and nothing else could be done. At window itself, they will use a scanner to save the document(s) in their database. Your spouse also must bring their DOD (Department of Defense) ID/Military ID to complete the process. There is absolutely NO FEE for the ID card, and it will be issued the same day.

Specimen only, but this is the very card I currently have
(source: http://whfrtc.ky.gov/iddeers/teslin.htm)

Who may avail?

The following personnel are eligible for DOD ID Cards: Active duty members, retired members, and members of the Reserve components not on active duty in excess of 30 days. Retired Reserve members who have reached their 60th birthday. Family members of military sponsors on active duty for more than 30 consecutive days. Family members of Ready Reserve (Selected, Individual and Standby Reservists) Family members of Retired Reservists, who have qualified for retired pay at age 60, yet have not reached age 60. Un-remarried or unmarried former spouses previously enrolled in DEERS. Medal of Honor recipients and their eligible family members. One hundred percent disabled veterans (DAVs) and their family members. Former members having reached age 60 and in recipient of retired pay for non-regular service, and their family members. Also eligible are survivors of the following: Active duty members. Retired with pay members. Reserve members on active or inactive duty. Retired reserve members who qualify for pay at age 60 but die before reaching age 60. One hundred percent DAVs. Medal of Honor Recipients. "Please note that DAVs MUST HAVE A COMBINED RATING OF 100% TO BE ELIGIBLE!!! DAVs receiving 100% because of unemployable status but your combined rating falls below 100% are not eligible, No exceptions will be made. (Source: http://www.dav3philippines.com/DEERS.htm)

Now I can use TRICARE and freely enter and exit military bases, commissaries, and other facilities!

All questions may be directed to (63) (2) 524-2227 on Tuesdays and Thursdays between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Calls placed outside of these times will not be entertained. The workstation will be closed on all weekends and U.S. and Philippine federal holidays.

For more tips in planning a trip to the US Embassy in Manila, and to see how our first visit went, click here.


wedding planning guide

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