The American Embassy in Manila pushed out a Message for U.S. Citizens, dtd 29 Jan 14 to their Embassy Wardens that announced the immediate closure of the DEERS office.
The following is extracted from their message:
“The U.S. Embassy wishes to advise U.S. military personnel, veterans, and their families that, effective immediately, the acceptance and processing of military ID card applications and DEERS enrollments at the Embassy has been suspended, due to equipment problems and staffing shortages. These functions are the responsibility of the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), and DMDC currently has no trained personnel in the Philippines to process ID cards.
The U.S. Embassy is working with DMDC on scheduling equipment repairs and sending a representative to the Philippines as soon as possible so that they can continue to support our veterans and dependents.”
Immediately we noticed some significant issues with what the Embassy was saying.
We know the Embassy and JUSMAGPHIL were adamantly opposed to assisting military retirees and their families when the DEERS office was first proposed by DMDC and it was delayed for the better part of a year while negotiations went on with the State Department because they refused locally. When it was first opened it offered walk-in service three half days a week, much like another Embassy offers. Then it went to appointment only and required retirees access a, mostly nonoperational, web page to obtain one of a very few appointments available two half days a month. So the Embassy and JUSMAGPHIL reduced service from walk-in to appointment only and from twelve (12) half days a month to two (2) half days a month. But at least there was a few slots if one was willing to wait for a few months to get an appointment.
How are military retirees in some other countries treated?
In Thailand there are 570 military retirees. There the Embassy, JUSMAGTHAI and a local RAO work together to provide access to DEERS and ID cards.
In Australia there are 537 military retirees. There the Embassy and the Defense Attaché Office offer appointments by calling real people at one of three numbers for DEERS and ID cards.
In the Philippines there are 3,702 military retirees. Here the Embassy and JUSMAGPHIL no longer provide access and expect DMDC to do the job for them.
Remember above where the Embassy said, “These functions are the responsibility of the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), and DMDC currently has no trained personnel in the Philippines to process ID cards.” and “The U.S. Embassy is working with DMDC on scheduling equipment repairs and sending a representative to the Philippines as soon as possible so that they can continue to support our veterans and dependents.” We know from past experience that DMAC does not provide staff to operate DEERS offices; it is and always has been the responsibility of the local military group. We confirmed that is still the policy yesterday with DMDC.
We know that not too long ago the RAO in Manila offered to assist with staffing the DEERS office and even went so far as to provide the names of those that would provide the manpower. The RAO offer was turned down when they were informed by JUSMAGPHIL that Embassy “management” had disapproved the offer.
So in other locations where there are DEERS offices the local military provides the staffing including in Thailand and Australia. In Thailand the offer by the local RAO to assist with manpower was accepted and is working well.
The very old military motto of “We take care of our own” seems to be alive and well in Thailand and Australia and obviously in many other locations. But it seems to have been forgotten by those at the Embassy and JUSMAGPHIL in the Philippines while they try to place the blame for a total closure of the DEERS office in the Philippines on DMDC!
As Paul Harvey used to say, “And now you know the rest of the story.”
We recommend veterans contact the one or more of these individuals.
Col Adrian R. Farral, Office of the Inspector General, USPACOM.
By mail: USPACOM, ATTN: J004, Box 64043, Camp H.M. Smith, HI 96861-4043
By Facximile: (808) 477-0005
By Phone: (808) 477-5101/5165