Time to PCS? Who's got the Football?

by Kristi Adams
Stripes Europe

You’ve probably heard of this Football …

Since 1962, an innocuous looking briefcase known as the “Football” has followed the President of the United States. Carried by a military aide, wherever the president goes, so does the Football.

Officially known as the “president’s emergency satchel” the Football contains all of the information and authentication the president would need to launch a nuclear war. Only the president can order launch commands, so the Football’s primary purpose is to confirm the president’s identity – and allow him to communicate with the National Military Command Center in the Pentagon.

But do you know about this one?

Military families should also have their own Football. Quite simply, it’s all of the critical information and documentation you need to have at your fingertips, in a method that’s well-organized and easily accessible. It’s the binder that you need to hand-carry with you, on the plane, in the car, on the ship or on the train. Just like the president’s version – your Football should never leave your side during a move.

Several copies of orders, birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, insurance policies, most recent LES (Leave & Earnings Statement), shot records, POA’s (Power of Attorney) are just a few of the things you should have in your Football.

But what if you’re starting from scratch and have never built your own Football, aka a “master PCS binder”? Then it’s time to tap into the power of the hive mind – and see what others who’ve come before you have done. There are over 452 ideas on Pinterest if you search for ‘PCS binder’. 

Many offer printable guides to help you get organized. There are ideas on what to do 90 / 60 / 30 days out, tips for first-time PCS’ers, a lifehacker checklist for change of addresses and more! (TIP - There’s also a special publication produced by Stars & Stripes Europe – “Just Landed”, which is packed with information on how to get up and running at your new OCONUS location.)

An Outside the Continental United States (OCONUS) move won’t exactly be stress-free, but managing it is tremendously easier with a well-organized Football!

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