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.
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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.
LES – Leave and Earnings Statement.
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.
TSP – Thrift Savings Plan. Similar to benefits found in private corporations’ 401(k) plan, TSPs offer a chance for military members to save for retirement.
TRICARE – Military 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.
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