Make It Easy on Your Survivors

by Freddy Groves

Do you keep your service files organized? Most of us don’t, unless pushed. But here’s something to consider: Can your family easily find what it needs to handle your affairs if something happens to you?

Here are a few documents your family will need to lay their hands on quickly:

–Your DD214 or service equivalent. If you don’t have your discharge papers, send for them.

–A list that includes Social security number, branch of service, dates of service, date and place of birth. Include all the places you were stationed, and dates.

–Immunization record, birth certificate and will. (You do have one, right? And it’s updated, not one you wrote 20 years ago?) Add your government life-insurance policy, copy of all marriage certificates and divorce decrees and copy of children’s birth certificates.

Download online (or send away for) the following blank forms, to be kept in the file: Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes; Claim for One Sum Payment Government Life Insurance; Claim for Monthly Payments National Service Life Insurance; Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker.

If you have an ongoing claim with the Department of Veterans Affairs, put all related documents in a separate file, newest at the top. Keep several sheets of blank paper in the file so you can note the date, time and whom you spoke with whenever you call the VA so the information is always current.

Go online to, click Veteran Services, then Survivors. Scroll down and look for any additional information that might apply to you. Send for the appropriate forms. Print out the VA Benefits for Survivors pamphlet and put it in the file, or call the VA (1-800-827-1000) and have one sent to

You only need to do this once. When you’ve assembled and organized your information, you just need to keep it updated.

Write to Freddy Groves in care of King Features Weekly Service,
P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to

(c) 2011 King Features Synd., Inc.

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