Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Are You Deployment Ready: Your Checklist

There are many different things you need to do in order to ensure you are "Deployment Ready". When you attend pre-deployment briefs, all the information can seem overwhelming. The solution? Makes a checklist. Quite a few things your military member will need to take care, but there are also some things the spouse will need to do. 

*I am telling this from my experience as a Navy spouse that has a sailor on a carrier. I am sure it varies from branch to branch and even varies within each branch itself depending on what your military member does*

Here are some things you will need to take care of before your military member leaves for deployment:
  • Is your military ID current and up-to-date, will it expire during deployment? 
    • Did you know when your military member is promoted, you need to update your ID too?
    • Having a valid military ID allows access to medical, dental, the commissary, the NEX, etc. 
    • It is much harder to renew your ID when your spouse is out to sea, there is a special form that is needed from the command to update your ID without your military member present. Please take care of your ID before deployment, notice how this is listed first!
  • Is the Page 2 (Emergency Data Form) correct? 
    • This is the current family contact information for your military member, this is their "Emergency Data".
  • Are you registered in NFAAS (Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System)?
    •  This is fairly new, the Navy developed this after Hurricane Katrina because there were hundreds of sailors unaccounted for. When we had a hurricane hit us here in Hampton Roads, we were told to "check in" on NFAAS to let the Navy know where we were: If we stayed in the area or if we evacuated elsewhere. 
    • If there is a disaster of any sort, this is the place that will provide information and support. 
  • Is your SGLI (Service Members Group Life Insurance) updated and is the correct beneficiary listed?
    • This is something your military member filled out way back in boot camp and may need to be updated.
  • Do you have a current general POA (Power of Attorney), or will you need a specific POA as well?
    • This is a touchy subject, a POA gives the recipient quite a bit of power. However, you will probably need this piece of paper in order to take care of things back home. I had to use mine to renew our lease. I've had to use it to take care of certain things at the bank. I strongly urge you to get this taken care of before deployment because it is not easy to get this document after the ship has pulled away.
    • You may need a specific POA: Are you planning on buying a house or vehicle? You need a specific POA for those. I was told I will need a specific POA for EACH vehicle to renew my stickers (NOT decals).
    • My Hubs took care of my POA on the ship, but you can get this taken care of at Legal on base. Just remember, you will need military ID, be in uniform of the day, and NO children are allowed at Legal. 
    • VERY good information in regards to being "Legally Prepared" for deployment can be found here.
  • Do you and your service member have a will?
    • Even though we definitely don't want to think about this situation, its better to be prepared. 
    • This is something you can take care of through Legal.
    • Not completely necessary if you want everything to go to your spouse (if you are married) or to your parents (if you are single) because that is who everything will go to in the event of a death. But if that is not who you want your things going to, then make sure to get a will drawn up.
    • Once again, check out the Legal information here.
  • Do you know how to contact the American Red Cross and your Ombudsman in case of emergency?
    • "When a military family experiences a crisis, the American Red Cross is there to assist by providing emergency communications twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. The Red Cross relays urgent messages containing accurate, factual, complete and verified descriptions of the emergency to service members stationed anywhere in the world, including ships at sea, embassies and remote locations."
    • If you are giving birth, the Red Cross will not be able to send a "birth message" until your baby has been born.
    • (877) 272-7337,
    • You will need the following information in order to send a Red Cross message: full name, rate/rank, last 4 of Social Security Number, birth date, dept. or division. The more information the better! 
    • After you send the Red Cross message, contact your Ombudsman! They are your DIRECT connection to the command. They can contact the command 24/7 365. By letting the Ombudsman know about the problem, they can prepare the command and let them know a Red Cross message is coming in!
    • Your ombudsman also help in non-emergency situations. They are your families source for information & referral. If you have a question, they are the ones to ask!
    • Your Ombudsman's information can probably be found on your command's official website. If not, you can find your Ombudsman here, just scroll down the page until you see "Contact Your Ombudsman".
    • SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH YOUR FAMILY. They may need to send a Red Cross message (what if something happens to you?) so please let them know what needs to be done in case of emergency.
  •  Do you have a communication plan with your spouse?
    • If you plan on using your cell phone to make international calls, make sure it is part of your cell phone plan. 
    • There are special calling cards you will need in order to make calls from the ship. My husband always bought his at the store on the ship. He would give me the card's information and I would call the number on the card to load minutes onto it. It isn't cheap, we spent about $200 and only spoke once every 3 weeks. I know couples that spent well over $1000 on phone calls alone. No thank you, I'll stick to emails as my primary communication.
    • Have you talked about emails? My Hubs and I had quite the adjustment with emails. He had long hours so I would get an email every day or so, I considered myself lucky. He is on a mission, he needs to do his job so I didn't expect tons of emails. So know what to expect. Also, learning to communicate through email isn't the  easiest. Have patience. Don't start silly fights over email. Its just not worth it! Also, don't send nude pictures. Your emails are looked over and when they catch "no-no" things in the email, they will ban your service member from his email account. At first it will only be for a few days, but do it again and its a month. One more time, banned for the rest of the deployment. Also, do you want your nude photo floating around the internet on the ship?
    • Care Packages! They are so much fun to make and I bet they are just as fun to receive. Know your military members mailing address. You can request care package flat rate boxes for FREE from the post office, here. Then there is filling out the customs form. Check out an amazing post here that tells you  exactly how to fill out that pesky form. But please please please do not send expensive items in a care package! What if the box gets lost or gets dropped in the ocean (doh'!)? Putting insurance on the package only covers the box as long as the USPS is handling it. Definitely does not cover when the military gets its hands on it. Be aware your military member will not be the only one going through this package, it will be inspected before they receive it. Hint Hint, do not send nude pictures or anything illegal. 
  • Have you discussed a spending plan for deployment?
    • Make a plan for what to do with the extra money you will make during deployment. For me, its going into savings. Others I know have paid off bills. 
    • Make a plan for spending while in port. Talk about this BEFORE your service member buys you a pricey leather jacket 2 sizes too small.
    • If you do not have a joint banking account, set up an allotment. This is easy enough to do and you will ensure your spouse at home gets the financial support you generally provide. Do NOT depend on wiring money. Hello River City! When communications are down, how do  you expect money to be wired?
    • If you have credit card debt, talk to your creditors. Deployed service members qualify for lower interest rates while they are deployed.
    • Will taxes be due? You can file for an extension if your service member will be deployed when taxes are due. If you plan on filing for your service member and are not filing jointly, you will need a POA to get this done. 
    • Do you have an emergency fund set up? I swear things always break the moment Hubs sails away into the sunset. We have an emergency fund, but not everyone does. Consider filling out a preauthorization from Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society for financial assistance. You can authorize up to $3,000 in an interest free loan. 

Well that is alot of information, probably one of my longest posts! But there is alot to do in order to be as prepared as possible for deployment. So start working of completing this checklist, you will feel better as you check off each one I promise. Nothing will take away the loneliness you will feel when your service member deploys, but the last thing you want to do is have a situation come up and have problems getting it all taken care of. 

The next post in this series will be (much shorter I hope!) about how to deal with Children & Deployment.


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