I have a retirement 401k in index funds, but with the unrest in the world, lets say war comes to America. My $ is just on a computer screen or printout ultimately.

So not to start the new year out on a bummer of a question, but I was explaining stock market risk to my sister. I told her that stock market risk, if you hold index funds, will not “lose” you money because you own a huge basket of stocks. Your balance may drop in a bear market for a few months or years but not your shares. Your investments will recover and grow further in the years to come, even if a few companies didn’t survive the correction. I then told her that to truly lose your index funds, our country (US) would have to be attacked and both the financial sector and government would have to be severely disrupted or destroyed. But at that point we’d have much bigger and more immediate problems than what is going to happen to our 401ks.

But that got me thinking, let’s say she and I survive and the US wins the war (rescued by the Canadians probably) what would happen!? If Vanguard is destroyed but many of those publicly traded companies survive, is there another way to restore at least part of my 401k?