Handling your business before you step outside the wire.
Taking the necessary steps to be prepared for deployment will insure you are ready to perform you overseas duties at your full potential. Having the peace of mind that all bills will be paid, and your loved ones taken care of, is probably one of the most comforting thoughts you can have when you leave the wire. I have been preparing for my first deployment by talking to friends who have been out there and who can answer with sincerity some of the most important questions about the impact a deployment has on you and your loves. Here I compiled a list of five important subjects:
Banking is a pain in the ass when you are in a city surrounded by every bank branch known to man. Imagine how painful it would be to resolve a banking issue in the middle of the desert. The stress it would cause you, and those you leave behind, to take care of those issues without you or with limited contact with you.
1. Autopay everything!
Having been in the army for some time, I can tell you that the army life is full of unknowables. Even when your chain of command gives you all the information they have, the picture can change at the drop of a hat. For that reason, I would argue, that making sure you set every bill you have to autopay is one of the most important actions you can take. It will minimize headaches and give you peace of mind. And while most people usually do make sure to take care of their bills, one thing they forget is to check the expiration date on their cards. If you set a bill to autopay, but your card expires before you get back, you will have problems with your account. For that reason, check your expiration dates and have your bank or credit card company send you cards that are good through your return date.
2. Travel plan schedules for day!
On a similar note, most banks and credit card companies have travel plan schedules you can set with them. It will alert your bank to the fact that you are not in town and to watch out for possible credit card theft. As a deployed soldier, your internet access might be sporadic at best. You want to be protected from possible unauthorized access to your accounts. Let your banks know.
3. Cut that wireless cord!
Let’s face it, we wish we could use our cellphones overseas. Cellphones have become a tremendous tool to stay in contact and handle business anytime, anywhere. Sadly, cellphones are as good as bricks without internet; that’s one bill you can suspend and save money while you are gone. For example, ATT will forgive any balance you may have on a device if you suspend your service due to orders. I saved $325.00 just by providing them a copy of my TCS orders.
4. Freeze baby, freeze!
Another possible action you can take while deploy is to call your debit card and credit card providers and have the cards frozen until you come back. Personally, I’m a fan of temporally freezing all but one card (the card I’m using for autopay) just in case I need to order something on the net.
The servicemembers’ civil relief act grants soldiers receiving mobilization orders a reduction of interest on all previous debt to 6%. It will also protect your mortgage loan and grant you specific rights if you are currently renting. More on that here: http://www.military.com
1. Power of Attorney and Will:
This one is never easy, and as far as my previously deployed friends is concern, it’s on a case by case bases. Bottom line: Choose the person you trust the most and give them a power of attorney in case you need someone to help you state side, or in the worst case, if you are injured or dead. You don’t have to spend any money on this. All military bases and pre-deployment packages have the option to put you in contact with the JAG office. They will provide you with an easily available Power of Attorney, and since you are at it, make a Last Will just in case. Find your office here: https://www.jagcnet.army.mil/Legal
2. The talk:
One last thing on the family issue, I know it’s hard but do have the talk. I had to sit my parents down and tell them what I wanted them to do if I was unconscious or worst. It was not an easy conversation to have. I chose to do it late at night, when my siblings were asleep, and my dad and I were sharing a few beers. It made the whole thing easier to approach and it was done quickly. Don’t make it a serious talk.
1. Renting space:
For those lucky to be married, and having their wife stay put while you go overseas, you can skip right through the next few lines. For the rest of us, there is only one option left: We must consider storage. Every military town is different and every real estate market has very different pricing, yet the logistics are mostly the same. If you live in the barracks or your wife is moving back with her folks, you need to figure out what to do with all your stuff.
Personally, I opted to sell literally everything except for a few bags of clothes and some other important items. But that’s just because I will be ETS’ing as soon as I come back from Afghanistan and I don’t want to deal with the logistics of a ton of items I don’t have room for. With just a few boxes left, I was able to park all my boxes at a friend’s house and save on storage. Another way to resolve the storage issue is to buy a cargo trailer outright.
2. Cargo trailers and ownership:
Yes, there is an upfront cost to purchasing a cargo trailer but with a little financing magic it can be done cheaper than renting a storage area and when you come back you have your very own cargo trailer. In my case, I’m planning on converting it to a travel trailer and use it to explore all the national parks.
3. Sharing storage units:
Some of the guys at the unit opted for driving everything in their vehicles and leaving everything with their family. Others decided to split the cost of storage with friends and store it all off post closed by. Don’t be afraid to reduce your size or to ask some of the rear detachment guys for help.
1. Auto Insurance:
Insurance companies will give you a brake on your auto insurance policy if they know you will store the vehicle for the length of your deployment. Call you insurance agency and speak to them about possible savings. But make sure you check with your state’s DMV (the state where the vehicle is registered that is), some states will require you to give up your vehicle plate to drop coverage. I personally use USAA, feel free to shop around for the best quote.
2. Renter’s Insurance:
If you are renting storage or if you are renting period, it is always a good idea to have renters’ insurance to cover a potential loss or theft. Check with your insurance agency about specific coverage. Guns, jewelry and electronics usually have a $2,000.00 cap and may required you to have additional insurance if your gun collection is larger than that. Let’s face it, we are in the military for a reason and most of us in combat arms have spent an unhealthy amount of cash on things that go bang. So, make sure your precious AR-15 is cover while you are gone. Most renters’ insurance will cost you about $15.00/month.
3. Life and Casualty:
If you are combat arms it’s a good idea to max your SGLI coverage, and if you have kids or own a home, I would consider obtaining additional insurance for the deployment length. If the worst was to happen, you want to make sure your loved ones will have everything they need to get back on their feet after a lost.
As your deployment date approaches, your unit will give you leave to spend with your family and take care of personal matters, do not make the mistake to neglect your PT. Many guys go crazy during leave, and on the weeks leading up to your deployment, arriving to theater with as much as forty-five days with no physical training. Don’t set yourself for failure, coming back home is your mission. One of the best military style physical training programs I know is from the guys at Soflete
Hope this article helps you guys create a list of items to take care before you fly off to your next adventure. Airborne!
PS: Did I miss anything? Comment below.