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The Military Spouse Document Survival Pack

Hey -- did yall miss me? Know that I have not been the same without each of you and yes, although AWOL for a bit I was here and waiting to get back into the thick of it.

Okay -- you ready? I know that you've seen me beat this drum before, and many listened. But some of you (I see you there hiding behind the screen) are still not believing when I say this really is something you need to do. Now Ialso understand that these documents may not be something you willnecessarilywant to read over and over, and they could even put you in the blue funk of having to think about a veryunpleasant topic, but ifyou haven't done this, here's the first step of a one-step process.

(1) Go Now. If your mil member is out in the garage, down in the laundry room, out back with the kids ... regardless, walk over to them, plant your finger of death in their chest and repeat after me -- "Honey I love you. And you know that I swore under the eyes of heaven to love and protect, BUT ... Honey, You listening to me?" "If somethingshould ever happen to you for whatever reason, natural or man-made, 50% of me is going to kick your ass while the other 50% of me will morn your passing and will morn your passing the rest of my days on earth." "So if you won't to avoid the 50% that's going to be kicking your sorry ass, then you simply must, right now, do something for me."

"I have to have my document survival pack. Toad Said So. And Honey, you have to do it for me as I can't." (okay, now you can take the finger out of their chest for they will be in total amazement that they survived the talking-to.)

There are many items that probably could be included in a personal document survival pack, but these are those things that you simply shouldn't be without. Many, if not all, are items that your military member must get for you as privacy act data will keep you from gaining access.

The time to do it is now, beforeyour spousespends another day or week, saying they'll "do it later." And if they're scheduled to deploy? Busted! You're both late to need for once they are gone, there is only a marginal chance that you will easily gain access to the information. Again, the time is now.

(The Boss' background as well as mine is Air Force so you will need to inquire to your servicing personnel office for those documents that may be unique to your service. And if the words "Air Force" put you off, then we'll see if you can answer the test question embedded below.)

1) Virtual Record of Emergency Data/DD Form 93 Record of Emergency Data: within the USAF, the now-famous "vRED" is the finite, authoritative reference document that every airman must have that details contact information in case of death, or serious injury or illness. For the Air Force, It replaces the Department of Defense(DD)Form 93, Record of Emergency Data. The DD Form 93 may still be used in your Service - so please check. (Now, to see if ANY of you are reading this far, here's the test question: What's this document called in Your Service?)2) Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance Election and Certificate (SGLI for short): This is the form that the military member must complete that identifies whom will be paid in the case of death while on active duty. It is also the form that the military member uses to decline all government life insurance. It is imperative that it be kept up to date, to include any change in the status of family members (new births/adoptions), deaths, marriage or divorce. Only those people identified on the SGLI will receive any insurance payout in the event of death. There is no other over-riding document, and the SGLI election cannot be overridden by a Last Will and Testament.3) Last Will and Testament: When your military member goes through the deployment processing line, they are asked if they "have a Will." If not, a fill-in-the-blank document is quickly executed and although completely legal and binding, usually doesn't articulate the depth or need that a well thought-out Will can achieve. Both the military member and the mil-spouse need to have their own Last Will and Testament.4) Powers of Attorney: if there are any POAs in existence, then a copy of each and every one should be in your safe box. They should be reviewed at least every two years for accuracy.5) Leave and Earnings Statement: The LES from the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS) each month shows, all pay by pay grade, taxes, accrued leave, date of service and usually length of enlistment. A required source document that you should have available.

In addition to these service-generated/service-related documents, the below list are items that you should be able to readily access in case of emergency. Most cannot be generated on a short notice basis, so it would be better to get them now and not need them, rather than need them now, and not have them.

6) Birth Certificates: have at the minimum, at least two certified birth certificates for every family member 7) Passports: you should have a copy of the photo page of every passport for every member of the family. 8) Marriage certificate9) Divorce decree from any previous marriage(s) (be sure the SGLI referenced above doesn't have the "ex" as a beneficiary!)10) Immigration/naturalization papers and documents for any family members11) Vehicle title(s)/Registration(s)

Okay ... there you have it. Toad's recommendation on what every military spouse should have in their Document Survival Pack. What's in yours? What would you add to it?Do you keep your documents in a "survivable" place? And curiously, did you find it difficult to go over these items the first time you saw them? Over&Out, MaintenanceToadOne

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