The air force is the newest branch of the U.S. army to provide Gold Star families with access to the bases in the entire country.
Immediate family members of fallen military service members are now eligible for the long-term cards in a program that started this month, according to Military.com.
“The chief of staff of the air force pronounced attention for more outreach to Gold Star families so that they know that they are always a part of the Air Force family,” Brooke Brzozowske, an air force spokesman, said on the website.
“These families have access to and have received long-term care and support by the air force Families Forever program with Pilot and Family Readiness Centers,” she added. “The basis of access cards will make it easier to access support services, and attendance at ceremonies and events.”
Before the program was set up, Gold Star Family members were required to be accompanied on the air force bases by a current ID card holder, despite the presence of the survivor services programs that were designed for them.
Gold Star mother Sherry Wyatt of Columbia, Missouri, says that she had with this program in the summer of 2015, when she attended a Blue Angels event at Whiteman AFB, where her son, Army Staff Sgt. Sterling William Wyatt, was honored after he was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan.
“They were in honor of our son, but we had to be accompanied on the basis of his captain. He had to sponsor us,” Wyatt said on Fox News. “Had that not been the case, we had problems with getting in for our own son’s ceremony.”
Officials say the ID cards for base access only and not access to medical facilities, commissioner of services or Morale, Welfare, Recreation (MWR) activities. Also all the cards candidates will be subject to a background check for the ID-cards issued.
No word on whether the benefits of the program will be expanded at a future date.
The Gold Star Access ID program is a supplement to the already existing Depending on the ID-card system that is issued to the widows and children.
According to the officials who spoke with Military.com both the Army and the Navy have similar programs since 2014 and have issued 600 ID cards.
The Air Force program began at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on May 1, and was then implemented nationwide on May 15.
“It’s nice if a program was made that the benefits of Gold Star Families,” Jim Frazier, whose son Jacob served in the air force, said on Fox News. His son was ambushed in a shootout, while in Afghanistan in 2003.
“It also recognizes those who are fallen and those they left behind and that is important,” he added. “I am pleased that the air force is finally the start of a program like this.”
Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter via @perrych