What not to call your Service Member?

Are you a ‘newbie’ to the military? Do you often feel overwhelmed by all the new military jargon and terminology? Don’t feel bad! The June 2020 edition of the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms has over 360 pages – and that doesn’t include the 1000s of informal acronyms and phrases service members use daily (see shortlist below).

Learning military lingo can be like learning a new language, but you can quickly hold your own in a conversation with your service member with practice. A great place to start is by understanding the differences in military titles. Each of the five (six if we include the Space Force) has its unique titles, such as Sailor, Marine, and Soldier. 

Take the following quiz and learn whatΒ NOT to call your recruit. Military members are very protective and proud of their military branch – and calling them by the RIGHT title will win you some KUDO points.

Here are some of the top acronyms used in the military.

  • AD β€“ Active Duty
  • AWOL β€“ Absent WithOut Leave – Not a good thing
  • BAH β€“ Basic Allowance for Housing – Allowance provided for those living OFF base (amount based off zip codes)
  • BAS β€“ Basic Allowance for Subsistence – used to pay for food for active duty military members.
  • BOLC β€“ Basic Officer Leader Course
  • BT β€“ Basic Training
  • Chit– Request or Voucher
  • CO β€“ Commanding Officer
  • COLA β€“ Cost of Living Allowance – an extra allotment (similar to BAH, and BAS) that is given when living in areas with such an extremely high cost of living, that your pay, bah, and bas is not enough.
  • CONUS β€“ Continental United States
  • DEERS β€“ Defense Enrollment Eligibility enRollment System – is a way of verifying who is eligible to receive military benefits (you need this to get TriCare β€“ military healthcare services).
  • DFAC β€“ Dining Facility – β€œMess Hall” is the common slang for that.
  • DITY β€“ Do-It-Yourself Move β€“ You pack, load and move all your items. These can be either a full or partial (military moves some of your items).
  • DOD β€“ Department of Defense
  • EM β€“ Enlisted Member
  • ETA β€“ Expected Time of Arrival
  • FCP β€“ Family Care Program
  • FRG β€“ Family Readiness Group – An officially command-sponsored organization of family members, volunteers, etc, which provide support and assistance, and a network of communications among the family members, the chain of command, and community resources.
  • JAG β€“ Judge Advocate General’s Corps – Military β€œLawyers”
  • KIA β€“ Killed In Action
  • KISS β€“ Keep it Simple Stupid
  • LES β€“ Leave and Earning Statement – the β€œpaycheck”. It will show you a breakdown of allotments, deductions and entitlements. 
  • LT β€“ Lieutenant
  • MEPS β€“ Military Entrance Processing Center
  • MIA β€“ Missing In Action
  • Milso β€“ Military Significant Other – YOU! 
  • MP β€“ Military Police
  • NCO β€“ Non-Commissioned Officer – A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not earned a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks.
  • OCONUS β€“ Outside of Continental United States
  • OIC -Officer In Charge
  • OPR β€“ Officer Performance Report
  • OPSEC β€“ Operational Security Don’t tell anyone operational information, such as when/where your SO is going. This is extremely important, especially with social media.
  • OTS/OCS β€“ Officer Training School/Officer Candidate School
  • PCS β€“ Permanent Change of Station – I have talked about this a lot: military moves. 
  • PERSEC β€“ Personal Security – Keep personal information private and secure. 
  • PFT β€“ Physical Fitness Test
  • POA β€“ Power of Attorney – VERY IMPORTANT to have updated at all times! 
  • POV β€“ Personally Owned Vehicle
  • PPM β€“ Personal Procured Move – another word for DITY
  • PT β€“ Physical Training
  • ROTC β€“ Reserve Officer Training Corps
  • SGLI– Service member’s Group Life Insurance. – Provided to all service members in case the worst would happen. The service member is also able to opt for their significant others to have a policy, called a FSGLI (FAMILY Service member Group Life Insurance).
  • SO β€“ Significant Other – Also, YOU!
  • TDY β€“ Temporary Duty
  • TLF β€“ Temporary Living Facility
  • TSP β€“ Thrift Savings Plan – Federal Government-sponsored retirement savings and investment plan. The purpose of the TSP is to provide retirement income.
  • USAF β€“ United States Air Force
  • USCG β€“ United States Coast Guard
  • USMC β€“ United States Marine Corps
  • USN β€“ United States Navy
  • VA β€“ Department of Veteran Affairs
  • WILCO β€“ Will Comply
  • WO β€“ Warrant Officer
  • XO β€“ Executive Officer


Categories: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Good to Know, Navy, Recruit Training, USMC

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