Former Q-clearance government employee can’t get a Real ID


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The REAL ID Act, passed by Congress, is posing a big problem for an Oak Ridge woman trying to get a new license identification card which will be required in October of next year.

WATE 6 On Your Side’s Don Dare found out that providing the necessary documents can be difficult for some older Tennesseans.

To secure the REAL ID, one of the documents needed is a birth certificate. But for older Tennesseans, that can be a problem. If you were not born in a hospital, but delivery was assisted by a midwife, often the birth was not recorded. And that is the issue for a retired Oak Ridge employee who recently applied for a REAL ID.

Just about every day, Mary Martin receives a check-up visit from her daughter-in-law Glenda Foster. Mrs. Martin is homebound. But for years, she led an active life working 30 years with a top secret Q-clearance at Oak Ridge.

However, medical setbacks – diabetes and Parkinson’s – keep her at home now.

Recently she visited the state driver’s license center in Oak Ridge with her family’s help. Mrs. Martin went there to secure a REAL ID required after October of next year to enter federal buildings and commercial flights.

Tennessee’s REAL ID displays a star in the top right corner.

“Well, I do go into government places. I go to the insurance office here, I have to show identification,” Mary Martin said.

To obtain a REAL ID at driver centers, one of the documents required is a birth certificate.  But Mrs. Martin doesn’t have one — in fact, she never did.  

“No there is no birth certificate, just the letter,” she said. She has a letter from the Vital Records Department in Nashville. Written 19 years ago, it says despite a thorough search no record can be found of her birth.

Apparently, it was never recorded.  She was delivered by a mid-wife more than 80 years ago in rural McMinn County.  The disappointment hit hard when she visited that Oak Ridge driver’s center.

She turned me down, told me I couldn’t get nothing on my driver’s license,” Mary Martin said. “…It hurt me real bad. Because it makes me feel like nothing. And, I’m somebody. It hurts me to be treated like that.”

Mrs. Martin apologized for getting emotional — but said she can’t help it because she’s given so much of her time to government service.

“I worked hard to get where I’m at now. I’m sick now and I can’t help myself, like I used to,” Mary Martin said.

She once worked inside the giant K-25 plant and other Oak Ridge facilities.

Attorney John Agee is a childhood friend of Mrs. Martin’s son. Mr. Agee says to prove citizenship, a birth certificate is required.

“It is the first and foremost of the documents that are required for a REAL ID. This being an act of Congress creating it, I don’t think there is any way around that. So if one doesn’t have a certified birth certificate then efforts have to be made to get one created,” John Agee said.

On Mrs. Martin’s behalf, John Agee is working on securing other sources to prove her citizenship and identity.

We have some documents from government sources that clearly has her birth date on them and also clearances she has had in the past,” John Agee said.

Mrs. Martin says she confident her attorney will be successful in securing her Real ID.

“He’s been so much help to me, he really has he’s done so much for me, I’ll never never forget him,” Mary Martin said.

To secure a REAL ID, there are three types of documents required:

  • Proof of Tennessee residency with a utility bill or IRS return
  • Proof of social security
  • Proof of US citizenship or legal residence

Another issue – Mrs. Martin does not have a copy of her marriage certificate to prove her name change. It will take time, but there are school records and Census records that could prove her identity.

We’ll follow the progress.

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