“You know your ID card expires at the end of this month,” the Soldier at the gate asked me as I entered Fort Bragg.

No. I didn’t. I thanked him and continued onto the installation as a feeling of dread crept over me. I was going to have to clear a whole day with my boss so that I could sit for hours at the ID Card Facility just to get a new card.

Did you know that many walk-in customers at the facility could wait up to three hours? Who has the time to sit in a lobby, waiting to hear your name called to get a new ID card, just so you can come on post? Not me and not you. And the facility agrees.

The facility has been taking appointments for a while, but many customers still chose to walk-in. Did you know that walk-in customers on average waited 37.5 minutes to get their cards while those with appointments got theirs within 18.4 minutes?

At first, I was skeptical. Was this appointment-only system going to be like trying to get an appointment at one of the clinics? Call for an appointment and get the soonest date next month? But I was pleasantly surprised. I went onto www.bragg.army.mil/directorates/HR/Pages and signed up for an appointmen. I could have gotten an appointment the following day, but opted for Friday. You can also call 643-2737 to set up an appointment between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. There are also kiosks in the lobby to make appointments.

I arrived to my appointment 15 minutes early. I tried to sign in, but wasn’t allowed to because you can only sign in 10 minutes early. So, I sat down and surfed the web on my smart phone for five minutes. When my 10-minute window approached, I signed in, sat back down and prepared to wait. Two minutes later, or barely enough time for me to pull my phone back out of my purse, take a sip of my ice tea and smile at a baby sitting on the lap of her mother across from me, my name was called. No joke. I waited a total of seven minutes (adding the five I had to wait to be able to sign in and the two of actual wait). It was the quickest I had ever waited at the facility.

The facility’s goal is to have a new ID card in your hand in 30 minutes. I didn’t exactly keep track, but I know it was quick and I was impressed.

A task that I normally dread, was turned into a quick and efficient process for me to be legit once again.

Here are a few tips to remember when renewing your ID card or setting up any other appointment for the facility:

• Remember to set up an appointment 30 days prior to the expiration of your card. When the implementation of the appointment-only system begins, the facility can’t guarantee that you’d be as lucky as I and get an appointment the following day. You can sign in 10 minutes prior to your appointment.

• A separate appointment must be made for each individual receiving an ID card or DEERS enrollment.  For example, a Family of three should make three separate, consecutive appointments to ensure enough time is allocated to process the entire Family and not affect other appointments.

• Ensure you have two forms of ID when renewing and/or have all the paperwork you need to set up new cards for dependents.

For a complete list of what paperwork is needed, call 643-2737 or visit their web site at www.bragg.army.mil/directorates/HR/personnel/Pages/IDCard.aspx.

• Emergency customers are seen on a case-by-case basis. Even though you may be considered an emergency customer, appointments will still take priority.

• Once you make an appointment, keep it. If you cannot make the appointment, call 643-2737 to cancel or reschedule.

With the appointment-only system in effect, the facility hopes to reduce customer wait times and improve their experience. For example, without the appointment system, the facility processes an average of 286 customers a day.  With the appointment system, they expect to process 336 customers a day.   What does that mean for you? That means you’ll be able to get an ID card quicker, allowing you to also eat, shop and maybe take a nap before you have to go back to work during your lunch hour. Sounds pretty enticing. And having been through the process myself, I’m all for it.