Commentary

June 8, 2012

SHIRTS CORNER

Like Boy Scouts, be prepared

by Chief Master Sgt. Scott Leach
56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron

The Air Force does a great job in preparing Airmen when a deployment tasking comes down. Our members perform weapons qualification, ancillary training and even enact wills and powers-of-attorney for family members. The irony of this issue is that we do this to get ready for a deployment, but many Airmen forget to stay prepared at their home station.

The first step is checking the record of emergency data on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight or vMPF. This record contains personal information, emergency contacts, death gratuity elections and even the person who will be responsible for directing disposition of your remains. These items are difficult subjects to think about, but it is vitally important they are correct. When an emergency happens, the Air Force uses this data to make official contact with family members, determine who receives monetary benefits, and what funeral arrangements will be made. When this information isn’t current, it takes the Air Force days instead of hours to make proper family notifications.

Wills and powers-of-attorney are not just items that need to be completed for deployments, they should always be current. Anytime you move locations, get married or divorced, beneficiaries change or have new dependants, these items will need to be reviewed and updated. This ensures your wishes are carried out so your property or assets are given to the proper person. There have been cases where a person’s benefits and belongings have been given to a third ex-spouse because the will wasn’t current.

Another important item to consider is insurance coverage. Although military members and their families are automatically covered with life insurance policies, these policies need to be reviewed to ensure proper amounts and beneficiaries are selected. Additional civilian insurance can be purchased for special needs or to augment military coverage.

Renters insurance is a policy everyone should have if they are renting a home or apartment, living on-base or even living in the dormitories. These premiums are very inexpensive ($5 to $20 a month) but have a huge impact when a tragedy happens. Members without renters insurance are typically left with only a few smoke-damaged belongings and a family wondering what to do next. On the other hand, people who have a policy are taken care of immediately with a place to stay, and money for expenses. They usually receive full replacement for all items damaged or lost.

Luke Air Force Base has seen many tragedies in the last year with six active-duty deaths. There are many actions to complete for each situation, so the record of emergency data has to be correct. We have also had several household fires, and the members with renters insurance were able to rebound much better than those without it. None of us want to think about a tragedy happening, but we all have to be prepared, just in case. Your family’s future and well-being may depend on it.




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