Opinion

Everything Bremerton: Challenges of an average civilian in a military community

When it comes to the military and government employment, my family is unique around the Bremerton area by the fact that neither my husband Jason nor I have served in the military or are employed by the military or government. Don’t get me wrong. We love living in this Navy town and we very much support the military presence, protection and service that comes with being a part of such a community.

That said, it is at times a struggle when you are just a civilian. This has really hit home for me this past month. My very best friend is a submariner’s wife. She recently moved into housing on Bangor with her husband and four kids, all under the age of 11, by the way. Her husband, like many submariners, is deployed much of the year. Since she does not come from a military family, she must rely on friends like me to be her emergency backup for her and the kids. They are also a one vehicle family because she is a stay at home mom that home schools her one special needs child and they have a limited budget. She has signed and submitted all of the permission forms with her children’s schools so that in the event of an emergency I can pick them up by just showing my ID.

For over a month now she has been attempting to get all of the necessary paperwork in place for me to have independent clearance and access to the base. This has involved at least two trips to the Bangor Pass and ID office and no less than five trips to the Keyport Pass and ID office after being told the Bangor office does not handle such requests. Each time she has gone to the Keyport Pass and ID, they informed her she was missing information but that independent access for someone like me was possible and allowed. The last three times she has had the person helping her write down everything she needs for the clearance paperwork to be processed. The final straw was yesterday when she arrived at the Keyport Pass and ID office with the handwritten list from the previous attempt and all of the necessary items only to be told that the only way I would be granted my own independent access would be if she had a doctor’s note describing a medical condition that required it. Supervisors have been talked to and complaints about this process have been lodged but nothing changes or gets corrected.

This is sloppy, unorganized work by individuals ignorant of their own rules and allowed free reign to make contradictory decisions within the same office with little to no accountability. Basically, it is perfectly OK for me to drive my own vehicle onto the base if my military ID friend is in front of me for a “piggyback” or if she is in the car with me. But the ability to obtain independent access for myself in the case of an emergency to my friend or her children is not allowed or is so mired in a sea of unprofessionalism and apathy it is impossible for the average person to even understand or figure out. I have a current concealed weapons permit for crying out loud. I passed the extensive background check that clearance required. My fingerprints have been on file with law enforcement for over a decade. My hope is that someone with some authority over at the Pass and ID offices reads my column and can start the ball rolling on cleaning up what is a real frustrating mess for military service members and spouses just looking for some security for their children and their families when it comes to emergency backup contacts who just happen to be civilians.

Most importantly, a very big thank you to the military members and their families who live in and serve this community.

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