Like so many other military families, ours has PCSed a lot. My husband has his Army “Me Book” that holds all of his Army records and travels with him on PCSs and deployments. On our first PCS together, though, we realized that his Me Book was too full with Army files to hold our family documents, too.
And so, our PCS Binder was born.
Our PCS binder is actually an accordion folder, not a binder. It was a freebie from USAA on one of Nick’s previous deployments. It has dividers inside that are perfect for organizing our family’s most important documents, making them easily findable when we’re in transit.
I knew I’d be glad I had the PCS Binder during that first PCS together from Fort Carson to Germany, but what I didn’t know what how handy our PCS Binder would be after we settled into our new assignment.
I’ll talk more about that in a minute, but first let’s take a look at what lives in our PCS Binder:
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- Extra Passport Photos (especially for OCONUS moves)
- Pet Veterinary Records
- Medical Files to Deliver to New Duty Station
- Auto Title/Lien
- Contact Information for our Credit Card Companies, Banks, and Insurance Companies
A note on PERSEC:
Your PCS Binder is ultra-convenient and keeps you organized during the move, but it has a LOT of critical PERSEC information in it, so please, for the love of all the wisdom you’ve gained over your years as a military spouse, don’t put your PCS binder in your checked airline baggage!
Carry you PCS Binder with you everywhere. If you have a hotel room safe, use it. The only thing worse than not having the documentation you need to set up home in your new duty station is to have all of your family’s identifying information stolen while you’re traveling. Be smart.
Perks of the PCS Binder Once You’ve Settled in Your New Duty Station
Inevitably, when we settle into a new duty station, we’re asked for more documents during in processing than we thought we would be. We now carry our PCS Binder and Nick’s Me Book with us to our in processing appointments so that we have whatever information or documentation each office on post might need to help us settle in.
I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve brought the PCS Binder along, even though we were 100% sure we only needed one or two specific documents in it. More times than not, we’ve been glad we’ve had all of those important pieces of paperwork in one place.
One last example of the perks of the PCS Binder: When our daughter was born overseas, Nick was able to grab the entire PCS Binder to bring to the German hospital the day that we filled out Small Shaw’s birth documents. It was much easier than trying to tell him where, in our larger family filing cabinet, to find our own birth certificates and passports.
Does your family use a PCS Binder? What documents do you recommend that other families put in theirs if they’re just getting started? Leave a comment!
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