Family Focus: Know Before You Go

Arnie Norem works at Commander, Navy Installations Command’s Fleet and Family Support Program. He is with the Work & Family Life Program.

Over the years I have sat down with many families who are preparing for a deployment. They come to me with questions and anxiety, whether it’s their first deployment or their fourteenth, and that’s understandable. I find that no two deployments are the same. That’s because life is constantly changing. In today’s world, that means the paper trail of our lives is also changing.

Keep your paperwork constantly up to date, and keep copies in one secure location. That’s my advice. Deployments are the reality of military life. We know they’re going to happen. When the orders to deploy arrive, it comes with a long to-do list. Why not ease your mind by having most of your paperwork already in order?

The foundation of a successful deployment may seem to be built on paper! It’s important to review, update and organize a number of important documents before deployment. These documents include the following:

  • Wills
  • Birth Certificates
  • Marriage License
  • Adoption Papers
  • Citizenship/Naturalization Papers
  • Passports/Visas
  • Insurance Policies (Life, Health, Home, Vehicle, Flood)
  • Real Estate Documents (Lease, Deed, First and Second Mortgages)
  • Car Title, Registration and Inspection
  • Most Recent Leave and Earnings Statement (LES)
  • Social Security Number of each Family Member

Arnie Norem, Commander, Navy Installations Command’s Fleet and Family Support Program

When the orders arrive, you should ensure your ID cards are current and update your Page 2, Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) and Powers of Attorney.

If you don’t already have one I think it’s a good idea to invest in a small, fire proof safe or rent a safety deposit box to store your family’s important documents. Many of these documents are difficult to replace. Even though you don’t need them often, when you do need them they are critical.

Military OneSource offers deployment support resources to help military members and their families maintain deployment preparedness.

The clock seems to run faster once the orders arrive, and there’s much to do beyond paperwork when preparing for a deployment. By keeping your paperwork up to date, you’ll have one less stressor to deal with, and you can focus on other things, like planning ways for the family to keep in contact and celebrate birthdays and family milestones.

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