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Personal Matters -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
What is a Casualty Assistance Officer?

Answer:
The Casualty Assistance Officer (CAO) is an officer in the grade of Captain or higher, warrant officer or senior NCO with the grade of Sergeant First Class or higher (Staff Sergeant only upon approval from Army's Casualty and Memorial Affairs Operations Center. Normally, the CAO will be of equal grade or higher than the casualty and/or to next of kin (NOK) for whom the assistance is being provided. While performing these duties, the CAO is relieved of all conflicting duties and/or responsibilities. CAOs are the official liaison between the family and the Army. The CAO is assigned to assist the family for as long as it takes to complete their transition. This may take several months depending on family needs. CAOs help families complete insurance forms, meet with funeral directors and make funeral plans.

Question:
What is a DD Form 214 used for and where can I obtain one?

Answer:
The DD Form 214 is the Certificate of Release or Discharge From Active Duty. This form enables you to participate in VA, state and federal programs. It is recommended that, because of its importance, you keep the original in a safe, fireproof location and get certified copies made that you can use to apply for benefits and jobs.

Question:
What is a legal guardian?

Answer:
Legal guardianship refers to a decision by a judge that places a person legally responsible for the food, health care, housing, and other necessities of another person. This other person may be a child or an adult who is deemed fully or partially incapable of caring for his or her own care.

Question:
What kind of services does the American Red Cross offer?

Answer:
The American Red Cross provides various services in emergency situations such as disaster relief, health and safety services, blood services, volunteer opportunities, first aid classes, communication services following the death or serious illness of a family member, the birth of a child or in other family emergencies, etc.

Question:
What local agencies can provide information on adoption services?

Answer:
There are a number of resources that can provide information on or referrals to local adoption agencies. Check your local telephone book or on the Internet for listings of government and private agencies or consult your health care provider for more information.

Question:
What medical-related records/documents should I retain and how long is it necessary to keep them?

Answer:
Medical records belonging to service members and their families are generally maintained by the Military Treatment Facility (MTF) to which they are assigned and follow the government's rules and regulations on how long the information contained in them is retained. In terms of other medical documents, you should retain any documents that may have been used to certify a medical condition you have such as one that was used in the application of disability benefits, for example. You should always keep a current copy of your immunization record. Consult your health provider for more information.

Question:
What should I do if I suspect that I am a victim of identity theft?

Answer:
If you suspect you've become a victim of identity theft or fraud, act immediately to minimize damage to your finances, as well as your reputation. Report the situation to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by calling their toll-free number at 1-877-438-4338 pr TDD at 202-326-2502 or online at: http://www.ftc.gov/. You should also call the fraud units of the three principal credit reporting companies: Equifax at 800-525-6285, Experian (formerly TRW) at 888-397-3742, and Trans Union at 800-680-7289. Additionally, contact all creditors and/or financial institutions with whom your name or identifying data have been fraudulently used. You may need to cancel accounts, stop-payment on any outstanding checks that may not have cleared, and change your Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card, account, and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

Question:
What type of things should I put in a safe deposit box or fire-proof box?

Answer:
Safe deposit boxes, available through financial institutions, and fire-proof boxes that you can keep in your own home are used to safeguard important records and valuables. An example of the things you might want to safeguard are legal documents such as your marriage and birth certificates, adoption papers, insurance policies, powers of attorney, deeds, stocks and bonds, and other important documents. You might also want to place any valuable jewelry, or things such as stamp or coin collections in such a place. Note that while it is important to put your will in a safe and accessible place, you might not want to put your will in a safe deposit box because some states may require your survivors to have a court order to allow them access to it. You should make sure that the person you appointed as your personal representative (executor) knows where your will is, or provide him/her with a signed copy.

Question:
Where can I learn what needs to be done to properly maintain my car?

Answer:
Maintaining a car properly will usually extend its service life. Check your owners manual for the maintenance schedule specific to your car or visit a local car dealer for your make and model car. Another resource is to visit the Auto Crafts Shop, if one is available in your military community as they can provide you with some assistance and many of the resources to allow you to maintain your vehicle yourself.

Question:
Where can I obtain a U.S. Passport?

Answer:
You can obtain a U.S. Passport at one of about 6,000 passport acceptance facilities that include Federal, state and probate courts, post offices, some public libraries and a number of county and municipal offices. There are also 13 regional passport agencies that generally serve only those individuals who are departing urgently. If you are applying for a U.S. passport for the first time; if your expired U.S. passport is not in your possession (or a valid one has been lost or stolen); if it was issued more than 15 years ago; or if your previous U.S. passport was issued when you were under 16 years of age; you will need to apply in person. You will need to have two photographs of yourself (specific size is required), proof of U.S. citizenship, and a valid form of photo identification such as a driver’s license or military ID. If you are renewing your U.S. Passport, you may do so by mail. Some restrictions apply. If you are overseas and have lost your passport or it was stolen, contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate for assistance.
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