They told me lots of things but something that stood out above all the barrage of information that sounded like Japanese to me at the time was one simple piece of advice......SAVE EVERY PIECE OF PAPER! They told me that I needed to be organized and thankfully this is a trait I have always been pretty good at. So I created my way of being organized.
I did save every piece of paper, read through every one of them, scanned each of them into the computer, then created a file for them. Over time I have revamped the files and created file systems on my computer as well. It has made things much easier!! Whenever I'm talking to Dean's VSO (Veteran Service Officer), I can send him a record. When I'm talking to a PEBLO (Physical Evaluation Board Liaison Officer), I can send a record. When I'm talking to people who are more knowledgeable than I about how to fight a particular battle, I can send proof of whatever I'm talking about. This ability has been crucial to saving time and getting the answers I need!
I am going to show you the way I do it...and hopefully you can tweak things to come up with your own way :)
First, we have a tiny little townhouse and so I bought a desk ($35 off craigslist) that can have the doors to it closed so no one has to look at my "office". It also allows my office to be in the center of the downstairs living space where I spend most of my time between the kitchen and living space since I have a family to take care of.
When I'm working, which is most days (I honestly only close it when I have people over, which is rare!) it's open with all its clutterful glory exposed...lol.
You see my scanner, printer, copier is up on top, my desk top has the computer and all the spiral notebooks I keep each with it's own purpose. I have the pull out surface which contains all the things I am currently working on and those things stay there until I'm at a point of satisfaction with them that I retire them to "wait" in the file folder (because as we all know, there is A LOT of waiting). On that pull out surface, I will usually have at least 3 things I am currently working on so that area is my least organized. Underneath the pull out surface is the file box (the other stuff is where we keep my son's many puzzles and my box of printer ink since I go through a lot of ink).
Here is my file box. I have a file for the Army where there are subheadings for the MEB/PEB (Medical & Physical Evaluation Board) process, his awards and medals, his LOD's (Line of Duty Investigation), anything that comes from the Army. A file for Legal/Court where I put the paperwork pertaining to the child support mess we've had to contend concerning the over payment of child support since there is a glitch in the system once you get approved for Social Security Disability. I have a file for Current things we are waiting to hear on with subheadings for Purple Heart since I'm trying to get Dean his Purple Heart, and a TSGLI (Traumatic Servicemembers' Group Life Insurance) folder since I am applying for that. I have a Social Security file to keep those documents. I have a VA Claims file where there are subheadings for VA Paperwork which contain Dean's papers from the VA whether they are the papers requesting more info from us or his rating decisions since they usually come little bits at a time, VA Caregiver folder for all those papers, and a Homes folder for Homes we've applied for. I have a file for Dean Medical with subheadings for Misc Medical paperwork from the VA, Lab Results for paperwork on his labs, and Project Victory where I keep his records from there.
At our VA, when you request records, they allow you the option to get records on disc which I ALWAYS CHOOSE! That is a life saver!!!! I don't have to scan in any of his medical records. What medical records I do have in hard copy form are mostly duplicates of what I have on the computer and misc notes and letters I've been given (which I scan into the computer).
Above is how I organize my computer files. I back these up regularly since our lives are contained inside them!!! In these files, not only do I keep specific information on Dean, but I keep bundles of what I've done together. For example, to apply for a Purple Heart you need a whole check list of information, so inside the Purple Heart folder on the computer I have a copy of everything I sent in his packet. Same goes for retreats, whatever information was required to apply for the retreat and every communication important to the retreat is kept in that file (which is under Caregiver). Under TSGLI I have all the information that I've sent them so that I know what they've seen.
I use an external hard drive that a little bigger than my cell phone. It's can hold 1 TB which should cover enough info for now :) I bought mine off Amazon.com for $80. Seagate External Hard Drive from Amazon.com
So now that I've laid out all that I've set up to be organized, I need your feedback. Do you have any questions about something that would apply to your situation? Have I left a piece out that requires further explanation? Let me know :)