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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

|

APRIL 2016

9

LETTERS

Retiree Access Tales

Mary Gilroy’s saga about renew-

ing her State retiree card sounded

very familiar (Speaking Out, January- February). At least at the end of her

several hours at Main State

she left with some reward for

her efforts, a compensation I

didn’t obtain a few years ago.

I retired from State in

March 2007 from overseas

(after just over 30 years with

the U.S. government). I

didn’t return to Washington,

D.C., until October 2011, at

which time I thought that a

retiree photo ID card would be

useful.

Checking beforehand with the

Office of Retiree Services (and, like Ms.

Gilroy, finding even as early as 2011 that

AFSA had the most information on the

process), I knew the route I had to fol-

low and thought I had the documents I

needed.

I first went to SA-1 to have the

DS-1838 approved. No problem there.

However, at the Diplomatic Security

office at Main State, I found that even

though Retiree Services had signed off

on the DS-1838 and seen my photo IDs, I

still couldn’t be issued a retiree card.

DS wouldn’t accept the second photo

ID—my Australian driver’s license. (I

needed two because, unlike Ms. Gilroy,

I was getting my retiree card for the first

time.) It seems that a valid U.S. driver’s

license would have been accepted. Even

a valid Canadian license would appar-

ently have worked.

The DS officer could not give me

a reason why a Canadian document

trumped the Australian. I was advised

that my birth certificate would also have

been acceptable.

Why a Xeroxed copy of a non-photo

document from 1951 would be accept-

able over a government-issued photo ID

(even if it wasn’t American or Canadian)

still has me befuddled.

So I had to leave, frustrated after a

fruitless afternoon, without that retiree

ID card, and still do not

have one.

It would be helpful if

AFSA could get the latest

information from the Bureau

of Diplomatic Security

regarding which documents

are acceptable to support a

request for an initial retiree

card. Yes, I would still like one.

Finally, again in agree-

ment with Ms. Gilroy, if the retiree

card is merely a gesture to the depart-

ing employee, why not include one

of the more impressive old-style ones

along with the Main State flag, a career

achievement award and a copy of the

Atlas statue from the HST Building court-

yard when one is being sent off?

And while one is at it, perhaps State

could include one’s last “real” ID photo

on the card? That might give overseas

retirees a certain little cachet when they

need to visit a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Steve Flora

FSS, retired

Canberra, Australia

State Could Do Better

Many thanks to Meg Gilroy for her

gracious account of the absurdities of the

retiree badge!

Having just acquired one while still

on active duty, I hadn’t given much

thought to the issues of renewal. At least

I could get to the retiree office unes-

corted and cut through the building

rather than walk around.

But the process raised similar ques-

tions in my mind about what the depart-

ment is trying to achieve. For instance,

why issue cards with a chip and mag-

netic strip that have no purpose? And,

why make retirees pick up yet another

card in the C Street lobby after passing

through visitor security?

As Gilroy notes: “Given the restric-

tions, the fact that it isn’t fully activated

and the complicated procedure for

renewal, one has to wonder why State

can’t do better.”

Beatrice Camp

FSO, retired

Arlington, Virginia

FS Mental Health Care,

A Historical Note

Thank you for spotlighting FS mental

health issues in the January-February

FSJ

. I appreciated both the discussion

of current issues and the review of the

Office of Mental Health Services’ evolu-

tion, and would like to add some notes

on Dr. Rigamer’s tenure as medical

director.

Retrenchment and downsizing were

government watchwords during that

time, and MED was no exception. Dr.

Rigamer oversaw several initiatives,

including stopping the practice of the

department acting as a secondary payer

for inpatient medical expenses linked to

overseas service.

I was posted in MED at the time, and

we were asked to look into shifting that

role to the Office of Workers’ Compen-

sation Programs in the Department of

Labor.

However, it quickly became appar-

ent that OWCP would be unable to

respond in a timely fashion to our

overseas patients’ needs, and the idea

was dropped.

Another initiative involved restrict-

ing regular direct-hire MED personnel

to a small managerial group and shifting