Imagine you just married someone in the military, and they tell you their marriage plan.
“Hey sweetheart, I know we just finished our honeymoon, but Monday after PT and breakfast at the DEFAC, we will go to Deers so I can update my CAC and then enroll you in TRICARE. Then we have a three-day weekend after the DONSA. So you can use my POV while I’m going on a ten-day FTX where I will wear my BCGs and eat MREs, and then we will PCs OCONUS with a three-year ADS before we ETS back bonus to use my GI bill to go to ROTC so I can transition from E five pay to one pay.” Did that make sense to you?
In this post, I will explain the top 30 military and army acronyms a new spouse or member of the military will need to know to better communicate and function as part of a military family.
Key Military Acronyms
- CO: Commanding Officer
- This is the commander of the unit.
- EXO: Executive Officer
- The EXO is the second person in charge of the unit.
- NCO: Noncommissioned Officers
- NCOs are the backbone of the military.
- NCOIC: Noncommissioned Officer in Charge
- You can be the NCOIC of a range of details, a mission, or an operation.
- OIC: Officer in Charge
- TDY: Temporary Duty
- This is where you travel from your home station to another location, conduct training, and then return to your home station.
- PCS: Permanent Change of Station
- This is where you leave one duty location and move to another. This is usually permanent.
- ETS: Expiration Terms of Service
- This is the last day that you will be in the military.
- CONUS: Continental United States
- This is how we refer to anything located within the 48 states.
- OCONUS: Outside of the Continental United States
- This is Hawaii, Alaska, and any other country.
- ADSO: Additional Duty Service Obligation
- If you go to a certain school, make a certain rank, or are promoted or PCS to a certain location, you are generally given an ADSO of one, two, or even three years.
- FTE: Field Training Exercise
- It is a coordinated military training event that simulates real-life combat scenarios.
- BCG: Birth Control Glasses
- These are military-issued glasses.
- MREs: Meals Ready to Eat
- These are ready-to-eat meals, and you usually eat these meals when you’re in training or deployed.
- ROTC: Reserve Officer Training Corps
- This is a four-year program at most universities where you can learn about everything it takes to become a military officer.
- OCS: Officer Candidate School
- Officer Candidate School is where you learn how to become an officer.
- POV: Privately Owned Vehicle
- This is the car that’s in your garage right now.
- DONSA: Day of No Scheduled Activities
- This is a day of no scheduled activities. This is also a training holiday. It’s a day off, usually on a Friday or a Monday, sometimes a three-day weekend, and sometimes a four-day weekend.
- POC: Point of Contact
- That’s who you need to contact if you want to find out some more information.
- DEERS: Defense enrollment eligibility reporting system.
- DEERS enrolls you into the military database so that you can get your CAC, which is a common access card.
- CAC: Common Access Card
- A CAC is different from a normal ID card because it’s enabled with a smart chip.
- LES: Leave and Earning Statement
- You get these every month. They tell you how much leave you have and how much you’re getting paid.
- TSP: Thrift Savings Plan
- Think of this as the military-sponsored 401(k) retirement plan.
- MOS: Military Occupational Specialty
- The different branches have different names for these types of specialties, but you can have very different jobs in each branch.
- PT: Physical Training
- But it generally refers to a morning workout after the first formation but before breakfast.
- DEFAC: Dining Facility
- You can eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining facility.
- PX/BX: Post Exchange or Base Exchange
- Think of this as a government-sponsored Walmart with slightly higher-end products.
- BAH: Basic Allowance for Housing
- If you are a single enlisted man, you live in the barracks on base.
- A married member of the military is entitled to live in base housing for free or is given BAH, or Basic Allowance for Housing, to pay for rent or a mortgage for a place to live off base.
- BAH varies depending on location, rank, and family size.
- COLA: Cost of Living Allowance
- This is a supplement to your income for members of the military who are living in expensive locations.
- TRICARE: Military Healthcare System
- This is not technically an acronym, but it’s our healthcare system.
- VA: Veterans Affairs
- Veterans Affairs provides lifelong healthcare services. I offer disability compensation, vocational rehabilitation education assistance, home loans, and life insurance to eligible military veterans.
Officer pay grades
- O-6 Colonel (Air Force, Army, Marines) or Captain (Navy)
- The O stands for an officer, as in officer pay grades. An O-6 stands for a colonel ( in the Air Force, Army, and Marines) and a captain in the Navy.
- I’ve already made a post about all officer ranks for all branches.
Enlisted pay grades
- E-7: Gunnery Sergeant (Marines)/Sergeant First Class (Army)/Master Sergeant (Air Force)/Chief (Navy)
- The E stands for enlisted, as in enlisted pay grades. For example, an E-7 is a gunner in the Marine Corps, a sergeant first class in the Army, a master sergeant in the Air Force, and a chief in the Navy.
- I’ve also already made a post about all of the enlisted ranks in all of the branches.
Military Army Acronym Summary
|Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System
|Common Access Card
|Leave and Earnings Statement
|Thrift Savings Plan
|Military Occupational Specialty
|Birth Control Glasses
|Meals Ready to Eat
|Reserve Officer Training Corps
|Privately Owned Vehicle
|Day of No Scheduled Activities
|Point of Contact
|Additional Duty Service Obligation
|Expiration Term of Service
|Continental United States
|Outside Continental United States
|Educational Benefits for Military Members
|Officer in Charge
|Noncommissioned Officer in Charge
|Active Duty Operational Support
|Field Training Exercise
|Officer Candidate School
|Basic Allowance for Housing
|Cost of Living Allowance
|Military Healthcare System
|Colonel (Air Force, Army, Marines) / Captain (Navy)
|Gunnery Sergeant (Marines) / Sergeant First Class (Army) / Master Sergeant (Air Force) / Chief (Navy)
Military Acronym Conclusion
Okay, there you have it: a quick list of the top acronyms used by family members in the US military. This helps you better understand what is going on with your family and your new life. What other essential army acronyms did I forget? Please put them down in the description, along with a quick explanation.