Posts Tagged ‘Chelle McIntyre’

This is such an awesome idea from Chelle McIntyre, the Military Spouse Magazine’s Spouse of the year; she originally shared this on the Army Spouse Network and I just had to share! I’ll be making one of these–Right after the conference in May (I’m a little busy getting door prizes, volunteers and menus laid out!)

The Book of Everything

I have been quite busy lately leading workshops and meeting with Family Readiness Groups (FRG) and command leadership about something I strongly feel every military family should have: the Book of Everything. I’m referring to a book that holds the key to an easier time in the military for any family or single service member, for that matter. This tool is incredibly important for those of us with children because when registration for school, extracurricular activities, and medical appointments arise, having information ready and available is crucial.

The Book of Everything is exactly what it sounds like: a book that contains all of the vital information you will need for most situations. Instead of having to dig around in filing cabinets, shoe boxes, or under the bed for information that really should be right at your fingertips, the Book of Everything has all that information in one place, ready to use. Once created, the Book of Everything should be placed in a fire-proof lockbox that is easy to access.

The best part is that it’s incredibly easy to make one of these books. In fact, if you can convince your FRG to hold a workshop that teaches its members how to put together the Book of Everything, the materials can be requested through command so it costs neither the individual nor the FRG any money. Every family benefits from having the Book of Everything, so it isn’t limited to age, rank, or gender. It’s a wonderful way to offer an activity with your FRG or other support group that is meaningful and well-received.

Essentially, the Book of Everything is a two inch binder filled with sheet protectors, a pack of Post-It notes and a writing utensil. The pages contain information that a family or service member might need at any moment. There are certain things that should always be in the Book of Everything, while other parts of the book will vary from family to family. If you decide to put the Book of Everything together in a group setting, it is best to use the Post-It notes as a guide for what items belong in each sheet protector so that people won’t feel like they need to bring important documents that may get lost.

All books should have the following documents, placed in separate sheet protectors and clearly marked:
– Emergency Contacts: Command and FRG contact information, police, Poison Control, American Red Cross, etc.
– Everyday Contacts: Friends, family members, and regularly used services such as pharmacies, medical appointment lines, etc.
– Social Security Information: Copies or originals of Social Security cards for each family member as well as an easy access, wallet sized document containing all social security numbers.
– Copy of Most Recent Orders: Make sure it is a legitimate copy of orders that can be used upon request.
– Copy of Officer Record Brief (ORB)/ Enlisted Record Brief (ERB)/ Soldier Record Brief (SRB)/ DD-214: This is intended to provide service information upon request.
– Leave and Earnings Statement: A recent copy which will be helpful if there are any pay issues.
– Copy of Military Identification Cards: This includes any card bearing member of the family.
– Copy of Insurance Policies: This includes all insurance policies (automobile, Service Member Group Life Insurance, health, etc)
– Health Information: For each member of the family, a documentation of chronic illness, allergies to medication, prescription information, doctors, specialists and insurance information should be included.
– List of Bills: This list includes any bills (electric, car payments, internet, cable, etc) with the following information: type of bill, name and address of company, account number, average or exact payment, frequency due).
– Proof of Homeownership/Rental Agreement: Whether living on or off post, this is an important document to have on hand. Also included with this document is a note indicating where to find Home Ownership Association or rental rules and guidelines.
– Wills: Any wills that the service member or dependants may have.
– Living Wills: This is probably one of the most important documents to have because it alleviates the emotional stress of having to decide whether a loved one should remain on life support or not.
– Bank/ Investment Accounts: A list of all checking and savings accounts, including college and retirement funds and investments.
– Birth Certificates: Copies of each family member’s birth certificate.
– Shot Records: This includes not only the service member and dependants, but any pets, as well.

The following information may not pertain to everyone, but should definitely be included if it does:
– Marriage/Wedding Certificate: This should include any and all marriages.
– Divorce/Separation Decree: Documentation of divorces or separations.
– Adoption Certificate/Guardianship: Documentation relating to the adoption of dependants, guardianship of children or the primary caretaker of an adult family member.
– Custody Agreements/Child Support/Alimony Documentation: This should include information for service member and dependant where applicable.
– Passports: This should contain at least photocopies of each dependant’s photo page of passport. Originals may also be stored here.
– General Power of Attorney: This document entitles the service member to allow a particular person to make decisions on his/her behalf. Make sure there is an original copy, signed and notarized, if applicable.
– Special Powers of Attorney: This document is an alternative to the General Power of Attorney that specifies what decisions can be made by the service member’s designee. Once again, an original document, signed and notarized is necessary.
– Medical Power of Attorney: This document is intended to allow the designee that ability to make decisions in emergency situations relating to medical care.
– Piece of Mind Document: Every branch of the military has a packet of information that allows the service member to designate personal choices in case of death, injury, or other serious incident. This document can be found at most military support centers and should be filled out by the service member.

The Book of Everything is intended to ease the pressures that are so prevalent in the military. The fact is that we cannot control the frequent moves, extended separations, and dramatic life events that occur unexpectedly, but we can prepare better for them. Everyone wins when there is organization. Even though it isn’t easy to think about the idea of needing to use a will or the other negative connotations of preparing before a deployment, it’s actually much bigger than that. The Book of Everything is an easy to use way to ensure that bills are being paid on time, important contacts don’t get lost, and families can run a little smoother with a little organization.

Just a little bit of effort now can save hours of headache in the future.


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