Important Documents Packet

Homeless, Lifestyle, Military Family, Uncategorized

Everyone needs proper documentation to prove their identification — particularly during an emergency, or when applying for assistance. If you’ve lost your government-issued documents, there are links near the end of this post – I hope they help to replace them.

I recommend every family have a packet containing important documents. Military spouses often purchase extra copies of everything and put one in a safe place such as a safe deposit box or with a trusted friend / family member. My important documents folder has actually saved us a couple times. I recommend that if you’re in a family, one individual be in charge of the folder system. Each individual should have their own personal folder, but there is one keeper of all the documents. This keeper should have all the originals and guard them at [almost] all costs.

What do I need in my packet?
  • Birth certificates for every household member.
  • Marriage certificate – get it notarized.
  • Passports.
  • Social Security Cards.
  • Driver’s Licenses or State IDs.
  • Military / Military Spouse IDs / CAC Cards.
  • Proof of ownership of any high-dollar item [land, vehicle, house, boat, granny’s pearl earrings that are “too valuable to wear”].
  • Personal banking info IF you have no way of logging onto the internet to check on it [such as a smartphone].
  • If possible, notarized copies of any Identification. I would also recommend having access to up to $50 in the event that you find you need a copy notarized. It cost something like $25 to get a copy of my birth certificate notarized in 2009.
  • Military discharge forms, such as form DD-214 and any other forms pertinent to your service.
  • Medical forms — especially for military / prior military. Veterans should visit their local VA center for information on obtaining their records.
  • Copy of any prescriptions or the contact information for the medical professional who prescribed them.
  • ID or punch cards for your local food pantry.
  • Tickets for your local public transit, or the cash to acquire them or gas for your vehicle.
  • Gift cards to get your family through a couple meals.
  • Pet info including service animal identification [I’d fold a bandana with “SERVICE ANIMAL” or “DO NOT PET” etc. on it into the packet].
  • Powers of Attorney.

When we were homeless, I kept all our papers in a clear sheet protector which then fit perfectly into a bubble envelope.

What if I’ve lost my documents?
How can I prove my identity as a homeless individual without any proof of identification or address?

Start by checking to see if you have a bank account, the card or checks for it, and a method of accessing it. I recommend having at least online access to your account{s} because even homeless, you can log in, and phone or chat with your banking establishment to try to access and utilize your account. If this is not possible, let’s find a way around that:

  1. Panhandle – in NC, people can acquire a free panhandler ID which allows one to panhandle. The instruction here is “get cash”.
  2. Use a portion of funds received from panhandling to acquire a prepaid card with something like Western Union [be aware of any fees associated with the card you choose].
  3. Hop onto GoFundMe and Facebook. Inform your friends and followers of your circumstances. Make certain they are aware you are missing important identifying documentation and that you are attempting to replace them to improve upon your circumstances. As folks add cash to your prepaid card, you can then use that money to replace your IDs using the information provided earlier in this article.

Meanwhile, I would speak to EVERY service organization you can. I would open with that. “Hi. I’m homeless [and a veteran – if applicable] and I have no personal identification. Can you help, or connect me with someone who can?” Food pantries, Goodwill, Salvation Army, Red Cross, every charitable organization you find, shelters, hospitals… if no one is helping, find a church or a library and tell them. If that doesn’t work, take a day to rest and let the anger build. Then boldly go forth to the office of the mayor; I wish you all the best in your campaign.

Thank you for reading!