PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. — To fulfill the Army’s commitment to Gold Star family members, a new Installation Access Card has been introduced to provide unescorted on-base access to eligible surviving family members whose loved ones gave their lives in defense of the nation.
Nate Pleasentbey, Survivor Outreach Services Support Coordinator, says the new card was created, “To outreach and embrace our survivors, to make them always aware that the ultimate sacrifice of their loved one is never forgotten.”
The new card recognizes concerns from Survivor Family Members who were experiencing difficulty gaining access to Army installations. Gold Star families will now have an easier time taking part in Memorial Day and Veterans Day celebrations, or making visits to honor their loved ones for their birthdays or other personal moments.
“9/11 closed my ability to come on post, I felt completely powerless,” said Gwyn De Amaral, a fifth generation resident of Monterey County with a deep family connection to the Presidio of Monterey.
De Amaral’s great-grandfather was an Army cavalryman who is buried at the post cemetery. His father, who was killed in the Vietnam War in 1965, is also memorialized on post with a Moorish-influenced fountain and garden located next to building 621.
“The survivor access badge has dramatically changed my experience of entering the Presidio. The connection that I once had and lost, is now fully intact and restored,” said De Amaral. “I belong to a greater community . . . the message ‘You Are Not Forgotten’ lives through the Gold Star.”
Until recently, a Survivor Access Badge was the official identification used by Gold Star families to gain access to any Army installation. The badge is a laminated paper ID which was difficult to produce and could only be created at select installations. While the new access card is not yet available at the Presidio of Monterey, the installation is among the next to receive the card making machine.
"The Army values people, especially our Gold Star spouses and family members," said Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, commanding general, U.S. Army Installation Management Command. "This change allows them to more easily receive the benefits and services to which they are entitled, and helps them stay connected to the Army."
This update to access cards was implemented to comply with requirements of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The Gold Star Installation Access Card began as an Army initiative but the Department of Defense intends to mandate the access card as an accepted form of ID throughout all branches of service. The new cards will have a renewal period of every three years.