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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.

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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.

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.

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