New Military Spouses Learn a Whole New Vocabulary

It can be very daunting as a military spouse, all of the abbreviations and terminology looks like a whole other language. Military abbreviations and terminology pop up frequently and quickly once you marry a service member. Although the Department of Defense has a searchable online dictionary, it’s good to get a brief overview of some of the vocabulary you’ve probably already seen and will continue to see.

BAH – Basic Allowance for Housing.

BAS – Basic Allowance for Subsistence.

Chit – A request or voucher.

CO – Commanding Officer. Your beloved service member has a CO and will likely use this abbreviation.

COLA – No, not the soda. Cost of Living Allowance.

Commissary – Where military members and families can go to buy food.

Commission – Officers are given rank and authority through written orders, or commission.

CONUS – Continental United States.

DEERS – Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. You and your children (if applicable) should enroll in DEERS to determine eligibility for TRICARE (see below).

DOD – Deparment of Defense.

EM – Enlisted Member.

FCP – Family Care Program. Families prepare these working documents while the family is split due to a service member’s assignment.

FSSA – Family Subsistence Supplemental Allowance. Congress put this program in place to increase a service member’s BAS so they are no longer eligible for Food Stamps.

HHG – Household Goods.

ID – Uniform Service Identification Card. Active duty members, Reservists and National Guard members get these cards, as due eligible dependents.

Leave – Service members earn 2.5 days of paid vacation days per month.

OCONUS – Outside the Continental United States.

PCS – Permanent Change of Station. Moving to a different base or station, and can mean staying in CONUS or moving overseas.

SSN – Social Security Number.

TDY or TAD – Temporary duty. Military members may be put on TDY, which means they’ll be away from their originally assigned unit for no more than 139 days.

TSPThrift Savings Plan. Similar to benefits found in private corporations’ 401(k) plan, TSPs offer a chance for military members to save for retirement.

TRICAREMilitary health care program for eligible members and their dependents.

VA – Department of Veterans Affairs.

Getting adjusted to the military lexicon isn’t easy, but the terms will come up so much that eventually, you won’t even have to think about them.

Photo thanks to drcw via Flickr Creative Commons