What exactly is a statement of charges? Well, you know all that gear the Army lent you? That still belongs to the Army, and if you were to lose one of those items, then you will have to pay for it. A statement of charges (or DD form 362) is the document used to process the charge and to show that you paid. Your unit does not have to wait until you PCS or ETS to charge you for your missing items; they can at any point conduct a 100% inventory using your CIF records and then charge you for anything that is missing. A typical CIF record can be between $6,000 to $12,000 in equipment. Losing just a few items could cost you a few hundred dollars.
Inventory your equipment before signing for it.
Many new soldiers may feel rushed when they first arrive at a unit and go to the Central Issuing Facility (CIF) to pick up their gear. This is the time when you must slow down and thoroughly inspect everything. Check the sizes, NSN, and color of each item and cross-reference it to the hand receipt. If something doesn't match, if you have a question about an item, or if you do not have it, then speak up. This is very important because if you sign that paper and it is not correct, then once you leave that building, you are now responsible for returning all that is on that paperback to CIF when you leave the post, even if you did not receive it.
Avoid losing your items in the first place.
The best way to avoid a statement of charges is to avoid losing the item in the first place. A good way to keep track of your equipment is to stay organized. If you don't already, get some good storage bins or just use duffel bags but make sure you have enough to fit all of your equipment. You can buy extra duffel bags for around $20 new or less if they are used. Organize your equipment and place a packing list on each container or bag.
If you lend out your equipment, be sure to have the borrower sign a DA Form 2062. This will protect you if the borrower loses your equipment or fails to return it.
Do not throw anything away.
If your equipment breaks, rips, or you just bought a new one, do not throw the original away. You can turn in broken equipment to CIF and avoid paying for it. Many soldiers break their protective eye pro and throw them away. They can then be charged for these if they do not have them, but if they kept their broken set, then no statement of charges will be issued.
What to do if you lose your equipment.
If you do happen to lose your equipment, there are a few things you can do. You can either pay the statement of charges (which is usually overpriced but does include a 10% depreciation on the items) or you can try and purchase the item for less than what they will charge you. A few places to check is your local military surplus store, military clothing, and sales, local thrift stores, Craigslist, eBay, or online military supply stores. You can also ask around if anyone has extra equipment and possibly buy it from them or do a trade.