How to Make a Deployment Binder

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Before my husband’s last deployment, our Ombudsman offered to make “Deployment Binders” for us. I had never made one before, but they were so helpful! She gave us actual binders with checklists of things to include, along with some Family Readiness Group (FRG) information, contacts, and a list of things to take care of before deployment (like this).

Submarine deployments are unique in that you can’t quickly email your spouse to find out where certain information or documents are. You need to know all of the passwords, phone numbers, bank information, when the car maintenance is due, etc. So I think it’s extra important to take care of all of this before a submarine deployment.

My advice is to start getting this binder together a few months before deployment, so that you aren’t scrambling at the last minute.

First, you need your binder and supplies.

  • Binder. I like to get the zip around kind so that nothing falls out.
  • Sheet Protectors. You will want these so you can slide documents in and out without punching holes.
  • Divider Tabs. So you can organize everything into categories.

Next, fill it up. Have your spouse help you. Here are some things to include.

  • Pre-Deployment Checklist. You can find ours here. Print it out and stick it in your binder. It feels so good to physically check things off as you accomplish them.
  • Important Family Documents. This could include birth certificates, marriage license, divorce decrees, death certificates, adoption papers, citizenship/naturalization papers, and passports/visas.
  • Medical Records. This should include all medical, vaccination, and dental records for each family member.
  • Veterinarian Records. Likewise, keep your medical and vaccination records for each pet.
  • Orders. Make sure you have a copy of your orders and deployment orders.
  • Boat Contact Information. This should be the numbers for the boat, FRG, Ombudsman and other boat contacts.
  • Personal Contacts. Be sure to have your personal contact information for important family members and emergency contacts in one easy place.
  • Household Contacts. Collect contact information for everything, from auto/home repairs, doctors, anyone you may need to call to make an appointment with. It’s also good to have maintenance logs for cars and homes.
  • Finances. Keep your credit card numbers and phone numbers for customer service handy. Also keep the most recent Leave and Earnings Statement (LES). This can be useful if you need to make sure that your spouse’s pay is correct. You will have something to compare any future LES to. Proof of paid taxes or documents for taxes, as well. Also in case of emergency, it’s a good idea to have the NMCRS Loan Preauthorization Form, as well.
  • Ownership Documentation. This could include the title to cars and home, insurance, etc.
  • POAs. Have a Power of Attorney (POA). POAs aren’t general, so you need to have specific ones for different things like using your spouse’s bank account, buying a house, moving into govt. housing, completing taxes, medical power, etc. I liked to have one for just about anything that could come up. It’s also a good time to have updated wills.
  • Deployment Goals! Do you have anything you want to accomplish during deployment? Print them out and stick them in your binder.

When you’re done, store the binder in a safe place.

I’d recommend storing your Deployment Binder on a high shelf or a safe, where you know a flood, child, or pet can’t get to it. You should talk to your FRG and Ombudsman to see what else they may recommend, but this general list should be a good start. And if you need help creating any of these documents, contact you FRG or Ombudsman.

I found it really helpful and empowering to have everything I could possibly need in this binder. I liked knowing exactly where everything was. It really gave me peace of mind, knowing that no matter what came up over deployment, I could handle it.

Have you ever created a deployment binder? What else would you add?

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