Whether you’re new to the military lifestyle or a seasoned MilSpouse, you should have a military family binder — something that will keep all important information and documents in one place so that you’re not left scrambling during your next PCS or deployment.

All you need to get started is:

  • 3-Ring Binder
  • Dividers (6 or more)
  • Page Protectors
  • Hole Punch
  • Paper
  • Pen

Why You Should Have a Military Family Binder

When you’re preparing for an impending deployment or PCS, you don’t always think about the things you might need while your spouse is gone. Understandably, you’re probably soaking up every spare bit of time you have together and not wanting to think about the what-ifs.

But, we’re here to tell you… you need this. Once your spouse is gone, their input is gone. If you can’t find a birth certificate, and you have to have it today for your child to enroll in school, you can’t always call and ask where it is or dig through piles of moving boxes hoping it’s in the next one you open. Dealing with these issues when you’re scrambling is near impossible, but there’s a better way — gathering everything you might need ahead of time!

What Should Be In Your Military Family Binder

Every PCS and deployment is different. Sometimes you barely have time to pack and say your goodbyes. Other times, you may have weeks or months to get your affairs in order. This binder is meant to help you in either situation. But, you may be wondering, what in the world should you put in it? 

We’re glad you asked! Here are the six sections that you should have in your military family binder:

1. Personal Documents

Personal documents will be critical in registering in DEERS and getting an I.D. card. The documents to keep in this section of your binder are:

  • Marriage License — connects the family member to the sponsor
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Cards — you will have to know the sponsor’s Social Security Number for all of the TRICARE forms
  • Military Orders — connects servicemember to the military
  • Visa
  • Passports (official and travel)
  • Citizenship/Naturalization Papers

It will also be helpful to keep key identification numbers (DoD identification number and driver’s license numbers) and unit information (brigade, battalion, company, and key contacts) in this section.

2. Educational Documents

This section will be essential when PCSing, as it will contain all pertinent information to get your children enrolled in school and for yourself to apply for a job if needed.

  • Diplomas
  • Professional Certifications
  • School Records

3. Legal Documents

  • Wills — living will and last will and testament
  • Powers of Attorney — general and special
  • Court Orders/Decrees — divorce decree, child custody order(s), paternity test results, child/spousal support
  • Ownership Documents (titles to cars and home)

4. Medical Documents

  • Health Plans
  • TRICARE Documents
  • DEERS. Documents
  • EFMP Program (DD Form 2792, DD Form 2792-1, DA Form 5888)
  • Physicals (Minor Dependents) 
  • Immunization Records
  • Medical Contacts (doctors, specialists)
  • Insurance Policies (health, pet)
  • Veterinary Records (including vaccinations for pets)

5. Financial Documents

  • Financial Institutions (account numbers, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts)
  • Login Credentials to Bank Accounts and Bills
  • Monthly Budget
  • Annual Credit Report (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax)
  • Life Insurance Policies (SGLI, AAFMAA)

6. Household Documents and Contacts

  • Housing Contracts — lease, move-in inspections, former residence history, references
  • Insurance Policies (homeowner/renters insurance, auto, pet)
  • Emergency Contacts
  • Maintenance Contacts (Auto/Home)
  • Maintenance Logs

When you’re done, place your binder in a safe place. Since your binder will include such important documents, you should always protect it, and never let it get packed with your household goods!

If you want a printable deployment binder, Semi-Delicate Balance has a great one here.

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

Other Helpful Tips for Your Next Deployment or PCS

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