Being part of the military comes with a whole new language. The military acronyms. This language is meant to provide a means for quick and efficient communication among the military community. If you have ever felt like you needed some sort of insider knowledge to decode what is said, here is an abbreviated GOAT for you – Glossary of Acronym of Terms. But just for fun, this isn’t just the real acronyms – but also what you will frequently hear them referred to. This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but will surely make you laugh or chortle, and explain the LES.
AAFES – Army and Air Force Exchange Service – aka the bougie exchange, especially when in OCONUS locations where families are present
ADFM – Active Duty Family Member. This is what DEERS refers to family members as. Family members are numbered as well by a FMP (Family Member Prefix). Spouses are generally 30. Second spouse 40, etc. Children are numbered based on seniority – 01 for first child, 02 for second, etc.
AMC – Air Mobility Command. This is who operates military flights CONUS and OCONUS, and for families for moves overseas.
BAH – Basic Housing Allowance. This monetary allowance is allotted by rank for the military member – it is divided by with and without dependents by rank and zip code.
BAS – Basic Allowance for Subsistence. This monetary allowance is to cover the service member’s meals. It is not meant to cover family member’s meals.
BCGs – Birth Control Glasses. This loving acronym refers to the lovely large black-framed glasses with abnormally thick corrective lenses that anyone who must wear glasses gets while in training.
BZ – Bravo Zulu. This phrase is used to celebrate an accomplishment or say “great job!” to a fellow service member or work counterpart.
CDC – Child Development Center – this CDC is not to be confused with the other organization of the same acronym which is on the news often. The CDC is the base daycare for children from 6 weeks to preschool.
COLA – Cost of Living Allowance. This is a stipend provided to service members who live in areas with high cost of living. COLA is typically offered to service members who live overseas to help cover the additional costs of living in these higher cost areas. There are areas that provide CONUS COLA. Areas within CONUS that provide COLA as of this writing can be found here.
CONUS – Continental United States
DEERS – Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System. This is the system that registers all service members, and their family members. When a service member becomes married, they must go to DEERS with the family member to put them in the system. When a family member is born, the family member must be registered in DEERS within 90 days. DEERS registration is what is pulled for TRICARE coverage.
DFAC – Dining Facility…because we need four letters for a two-word building.
DFAS– Defense Finance and Accounting Service – this is a big one, this is the acronym service members see in their bank accounts.
DITY – Do It Yourself, usually referred to as a DITY move. However, this acronym has fallen out of vernacular and is now a PPM – Personally Procured Move. Either DITY and PPM are interchangeable.
DOD – Department of Defense
ETS: Expiration of Term of Service. Also known as EAS – or Expiration of Active Obligated Service. This is the end of the enlistment period, or for officer the ETS is the period before career designation (service dependent).
FOB – Forward operating base. These bases are located in deployment locations, and are usually large enough to have hot water showers!
FUBAR – F***** beyond all recognition. AKA not a job well done.
HEDIS– Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set – the HEDIS metrics are something that you may hear of if you are seen at medical on installation, or be asked a specific question at visits due to measures that are being monitored.
LES – Leave and Earning Statement – the pay stub that military members receive. It looks like a crazy chart, and there are actual classes to help discern its meaning.
MRE – Meals Ready to Eat. These meals punch a day’s worth of calories into one little brown pouch will prevent the service member from needing to use the facilities in the field to #2. But those pan coated chocolate discs look awful familiar!
MTF – Military Treatment Facility – the military hospital or main clinic that provides medical services to active duty or military families on board installation.
OCONUS – Outside the Continental United States/ outside the contiguous United States – aka overseas locations where service members are stationed. Alaska counts as OCONUS, as is Hawaii, since it is not within the “lower 48” states.
OHA – Overseas Housing Allowance. This is self-explanatory – the housing allowance provided to service members living in overseas locations. In lieu of BAH, military members receive OHA when living OCONUS. Getting the hang of these acronyms?
OPSEC – Operational Security. If you have heard the phrase “Loose Lips Sink Ships” then you are families with OPSEC. The idea is to not share dates of moving troops overseas, or military secrets on social media or with people outside the immediate need to know.
Package Store – It is also referred to as the Shoppette or a Class 6. Not an acronym, but this phrase refers to the store on base that sells alcohol.
PCM – Primary Care Manager. TRICARE Prime is a HMO like insurance – meaning all referrals must go through a PCM. If you have TRICARE Prime, get to know your PCM well, and how to get in touch with them.
PEBD– Pay Entry Base Date – this is seen on the LES. This date is the most recent entry on duty without a break in service.
POA – Power of Attorney – this document is essential for family members of the active duty service member when they are deployed. There are General and Special Power of Attorney’s – ask your service’s administrative section or legal services to learn more about these and when to have them.
POV – Privately Owned Vehicle as opposed to a Government Owned Vehicle (GOV) or a contracted vehicle.
SA – Situational Awareness
Scuttlebutt – while not an acronym, this term means conversation around the water cooler or occasionally is used to refer to the water cooler itself.
SOCOM – Special Operations Command
TDY – Temporary Duty Travel, aka Temporary Additional Duty (TAD) – this is the term that military members often say when they travel on business, because after all, it is on duty.
TSP – Thrift Savings Plan – the retirement plan offered to service members. Make sure you understand what the breakdowns for this means.
The X – a term for the military Exchange. Often a Navy Exchange or Marine Corps Exchange because of the large “X” in their signs.
If you want to know even more acronyms associated with your or your families branch of service, inquire at the family services office to see if there are classes on offer to help discern the military terms. Learning what these abbreviations mean can help with insight and a sense of belonging with the understanding. Want to have it all at your fingertips now, refer to the DOD Dictionary of Military Associated Terms for up to date acronyms.