A 3rd Infantry Division Soldier gives a thumbs-up as he boards a plane to deploy to Afghanistan, August 3, 2017. Approximately 160 Soldiers assigned to the 3rd ID headquarters departed for a nine-month mission in support of Operations Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Candace Mundt/Released)

WASHINGTON – Service members accept responsibility for defending the nation … surely they can be trusted when boarding a plane.

This is the thinking of the Transportation Security Administration, which is pushing to ensure military troops and DOD Civilians know they can use the TSA Precheck program.

“Service members are already enrolled in TSA Precheck, but many do not know they are,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said. As a retired Coast Guard vice admiral, he wants all those eligible to use this free program.

Military personnel of all armed forces components and students at the service academies are automatically enrolled in TSA Precheck. Their DOD ID numbers – 10-digits on the back of a Common Access Card – serve as the “Known Traveler Numbers.”

Civilian employees must opt into the program using the milConnect website. Their DOD ID number is also their KTN.

Pekoske noted there is no cost for military members or civilians to participate in the program. For the general public, the enrollment fee is $85.

“This is a real benefit for being a member of the armed forces, and it is good for us from a security perspective,” the TSA administrator added.

To obtain their military-affiliated status, service members and DOD Civilians undergo background screenings, and most have security clearances. They are trusted to carry weapons in defense of the United States or to safeguard America’s secrets. So, the TSA decided there is no need for them to take off their shoes and belts at a checkpoint to get on an aircraft.

All travelers must add their DOD ID number to their Defense Travel System profiles to access TSA Precheck while on official movement orders, but eligible service members and civilians can also use it for personal trips, Pekoske said.

“When you are making flight reservations on any airline website, there is a box for the KTN where the DOD number can be inputted,” he said. “Once you put the number in – especially if you are a regular flier on that airline – every time you make a reservation, or a reservation is made by the DOD travel service for you, they will automatically pick up that code.

“The effort makes sense from an agency perspective,” the administrator further noted, “and it’s a way to say thanks to members of the military and the civilian professionals of DOD and the Department of Homeland Security who sacrifice so much. It’s a really good program, and it provides a direct benefit to those who keep us free.”