Insurance important to protect possessions
Fort Campbell officials took down a duplex destroyed in a fire in December 2007, on June 2, 2008 to turn the location into a green space for the community to enjoy. Residents are encouraged to protect themselves in case of a fire with renters or homeowners insurance, whether they live on or off post.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- Former Soldier Sarah Eisenhuth remembers clearly the day her Family lost all their material possessions.

It was July 9, 2005. Sarah, her husband, Todd, a Soldier in the 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, and their daughter, had gone to lunch in Clarksville.

Midway through their meal, Sarah's phone rang several times before she answered. The news she heard from their neighbor was devastating.

A fire had raged through the Eisenhuth's home in Indian Mound - destroying everything.

"[The sheriff] grabbed the phone and told me 'don't rush home it's too late; everything's gone,'" Sarah said. "It was a complete loss."

Officials determined that the cause of the fire was electrical. Fortunately, the Eisenhuths had home owners insurance.

Although they lost many items that had sentimental value, they were able to replace the remainder of their possessions and rebuild their home on the same lot in Tennessee.

"Insurance is definitely very important," Sarah said.

Not all Soldiers and their Families are as fortunate as the Eisenhuths. Many don't have or don't see the need for insurance.

"Nobody is immune from having a fire," said David Brockman, Campbell Crossing marketing manager.

For Soldiers and their Families who live on post, Campbell Crossing includes $20,000 worth of renters insurance with their Basic Allowance for Housing or BAH.

"A lot of people still don't think the insurance is important, that's why we've included it in the BAH," said Brockman.

"As soon as they say 'that'll never happen to me' and it does happen, we have that [insurance] there for them."

Brockman said in addition to the $20,000 in renters' insurance coverage, Campbell Crossing encourages Soldiers and Families to get supplemental insurance to cover any additional damage or property loss. He said this insurance costs about $13 per month. The Soldier would pay for this coverage out of his or her own pocket.

"We encourage the insurance," Brockman said.

Insurance protection is also recommended for Soldiers and Families who life off post, as well, said Betty Geren, Army Community Service financial readiness advisor.

For Army military Families who are the victims of a fire or other disaster and have lost all of their possessions, help is available.

Those living on or off post may receive immediate, basic needs assistance, like clothing, shelter and food through the local American Red Cross, Geren said.

The Red Cross provides free lodging and vouchers or gift cards for food and clothing for a few days so Soldiers and their Families can organize paperwork needed for more assistance, she said.

Campbell Crossing will pay for the Soldier and Family in on-post housing to stay in a hotel until they can be moved into another home on post, Brockman said.

"That's another advantage of living on post," he said.

Once their basic needs are met after a disaster, Geren advises Soldiers and their Families to seek assistance from the Army Emergency Relief fund. AER is the Army's own emergency financial assistance organization.

"If they do not have renters [or homeowners] insurance and they lose everything, they're going to need some AER help," said Geren, an AER officer for Fort Campbell. "We help when they have a financial emergency. AER is going to help."

Geren said AER's assistance could be in the form of a grant or an interest-free loan, depending on the individual situation.

To apply for AER assistance, the Soldier's commander should fill out an AER Form 600 to approve up to $1,000 to cover the cost of unexpected expenses. Then, the form is brought to the ACS Financial Services Office, 5662 Screaming Eagle Blvd.

"In case of a great loss, they probably would need more than $1,000," Geren said.

Therefore, a commander may request more than $1,000 for a Soldier who has experienced loss of his home or property with AER Form 700. In addition to the form, the Soldier or spouse would need estimates for the replacement items needed, Geren said.

Geren is authorized to approve $2,500 in AER funds. Higher amounts must be approved by the Garrison Commander and AER headquarters.

For Soldiers and their Families who did not have renters or homeowners insurance, Geren advises them to seek assistance from AER instead of high interest loans elsewhere.

"AER's money - it's the Soldiers' money," Geren said. "If they need some immediate assistance, they should be able to get it."

In addition to the Red Cross, Geren said other organizations, like the Salvation Army, local churches and the Armed Services YMCA Backdoor Boutique on Screaming Eagle Boulevard, also offer free assistance to Soldiers and Families in need.

Five years after fire destroyed their home, the Eisenmuths try to protect themselves and their belongings in case of another fire or natural disaster.

In addition to having insurance, Sarah recommends Soldiers and their Families keep receipts for their larger electronic items and furnishings.

If you don't have receipts, Sarah suggests making a list of the items complete with the month or year the items were bought. She also suggests taking photos of all the items and keeping all of the paperwork in a secure location, like a fireproof safe.

"When you lose everything, you're always going to forget things," Sarah noted. "We still to this day remember things we forgot to claim."

Eisenhuth understands the loss Soldiers and Families may feel after their home and possessions have been destroyed. She offers some advice to weather this storm.

"Hang in there," she said. "It does get better. It's really rough at first, but as long as you have your Family, that's what got us through it."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16