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There are military acronyms and abbreviations for literally everything under the sun. And while it seems that some spouses spend their days memorizing all of the gazillion acronyms, I’m not about that life. And I’m sure many of you aren’t either, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this post.
After more than a year as a military spouse I’ve figured out which acronyms are actually relevant to my life, and what actually would have been helpful for me to know in my first few months after marrying into the military.
I thought I would make life easier for all of us and create this little guide of acronyms you’ll actually need to know as a new milspouse (specifically for you Army people.)
I’m still not totally sure what an MOS is. All I know is that when I first got married, literally everyone asked what my husbands MOS was. It would have been helpful to know what that meant because I’m sure my answers sounded incredibly dumb. My recommendation is to ask your spouse what you should say. And while you’re at it, ask what his unit is, because that’s always the follow-up question, to which I also was never totally sure of the answer. (Real talk, is the unit the same as a brigade? battalion? company? all of the above? I always just answered whichever one I could remember at the time the question was being asked. I do not recommend this approach.)
This ominous-sounding term is just the military way to say your spouse will be training nearby and may be gone for a few weeks. If you live near the desert like we do, it specifically means your spouse will be camping out in the middle of the desert. And there will not be good cell service.
If you’re in any military spouse Facebook groups (which I do recommend because I’ve met some great people through them!) you’ve probably seen someone shout (type) OPSEC!! angrily. This is actually important info for you to know, so listen up. OPSEC means Operational Security. For the new spouse, the main thing is to consider what you are sharing with others, whether virtually or in real life, and how it could potentially affect the security of your spouses unit. Good rules of thumb are to avoid mentioning specific dates and places – especially when it comes to deployments/large group movements. When in doubt, just don’t overshare. This applies to all areas of life, but for this purpose we’ll just leave it at that.
This is probably the first place you will visit after getting married/moving to a new post. This is where you go to register to receive Army benefits like insurance, access to post, etc. You’ll probably have to make an appointment a million years in advance, or you can just walk in and hope for the best. Your spouse will have all of the necessary info to get you set up, but it’s nice to know they’re not talking about forest animals when they mention getting you registered with DEERS.
Once you’re set up with the DEERS office, you’re eligible for insurance through TRICARE. So when you inevitably hear people complaining about TRICARE, you can just nod along knowing exactly what they’re talking about.
This is one of the most common acronym families use because pretty much all military families will end up PCSing at some point in time. PCS means Permanent Change of Station. This is the process you go to in order to relocate to a different base. Typically, military families PCS every 2-3 years. But it could be 6 months or 6 years. So the word “permanent” is really more of a guideline than a rule in this case.
CONUS & OCONUS
When you do get to PCS somewhere new, there are two main options. Either within the Continental US (CONUS) or outside of it (OCONUS.) Simple enough. I see spouses using these terms all the time, so I think they are useful for new spouses edification.
Within your spouses unit, there will most likely be an FRG. This stands for Family Readiness Group, which is basically a family support network organized by other families within the unit. This is a great opportunity to meet others in the same unit whose spouses will likely have similar schedules to yours as far as training and deployments. It can be a really great resource. And if you’re like me, you’ll probably first hear of the FRG when being asked to take a leadership role. It’s fine. We’re fine.
(F)MWR stands for Family, Morale, Welfare, and Recreation. The MWR usually hosts a wide variety of events for soldiers, spouses, and families. Some of their activities include concerts, kids clubs, intramural sports, and events.
ACS is the Army Community Service office and they’re able to provide a ton of resources, whether you are struggling to make ends meet, need help finding a job, or are just curious about getting involved in your local community. It’s definitely a good number to have in case of emergencies. Or if you have non-emergencies but just need help getting your life together. Because let’s face it, we all need life help from time to time.
PWOC stands for Protestant Women of the Chapel. It is under the umbrella of the chaplaincy. Many military bases (if not most) have local PWOC chapters that meet regularly for Women’s Bible studies and events. It’s a great opportunity to meet Christian women and learn alongside others.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this New Military Spouse’s Guide to Army Acronyms! These are just the ones I’ve found useful to know after more than a year as a milspouse.
Are there any important abbreviations or resources I’ve missed? I’m always learning new thing ones (aka pretending to comprehend a conversation, then going home and asking my husband to translate.)
Let me know which acronyms you’d add in the comments and I may add a part 2 later on!