Military Family Glossary

This glossary provides useful terms and acronyms to assist you in understanding military language. These are routinely used in formal and informal communications in and about the Military/Family Network. As part of a Military Family your ability to understand these common terms and acronyms will enable you to take care of your family adequately.

Army & Air Force Exchange Service – the military agency that operates Army Post Exchanges (PX) and Air Force Base Exchanges (BX). PX and BX are "department store" like activities that can be used by eligible military personnel and their families.

Active Component – active duty forces of the military.

Army Community Services – provides a range of services to military families.

Active Duty – a period of time when a service member is working for and paid by the military on a full-time basis. Active duty may be for the purpose of training or mission tasks.

Active Duty for Special Work.

Active Duty for Training.

Army Emergency Relief – each service has a relief society. A private non-profit organization funded by donations providing emergency assistance to Army military members and families in need.

Air Force Base

American Forces Network – Network of TV and radio stations operated by AFRTS.

Armed Forces Radio and Television Service – A military activity that provides radio and television services to overseas commands.

Adjutant General – a senior military official. The State Adjutant General is the most senior office in a state’s National Guard. The Adjutant General of the Army is the Army’s senior official for administrative activities.

Active Guard Reserve – National Guard and Reserve members who are on voluntary active duty providing full time support to National Guard, Reserve, and Active Component organizations for the purpose of organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing or training the Reserve Components.

Advanced Individual Training; in which soldiers learn a particular skill after they complete basic training.

Air Force Aid Society
A private non-profit organization funded by donations providing emergency assistance to military families in need.

A specified amount of money the member designates to be paid to a particular place or person each month directly from his/her pay.

Air National Guard – State National Guard units supported by the Air Force who may be called to active duty to contribute to the mission of the US Air Force.

American Red Cross

A building serves as the headquarters for military reserve personnel; used for storing arms and military equipment.

Army National Guard – State National Guard units supported by the Army who may be called to active duty to contribute to the mission of the US Army.

Annual Training – A period of active duty attended by members of the Guard and Reserve for the purpose of training.

Basic Allowance for Housing – a financial allowance given to individuals on active duty when government quarters are not provided.

Basic Allowance for Subsistence – monthly food assistance provided to members who do not eat a military facilities.

Battle Dress Uniform – the camouflaged field uniform.

Basic Training – initial entry military training also known as IET.

Base Exchange – a "department store" like activity on an Air Force base that can be used by eligible military members and their dependents.

Casualty Assistance Calls Officer – also knows and CAO. This officer provides assistance to family members in case of the death of a military member.

Chain of Command
A military structure that defines responsibility for units. Every unit has a chain of command. Units on active duty have a chain of command that extends from their immediate commander to the President (Commander in Chief). National Guard units not on federal service, have a chain of command through the State Adjutant General to the Governor.

Change of Command
The Change of Command ceremony is a clear, legal and symbolic passing of the authority and responsibility from one commander to the next.

A military member of the clergy.

Classified Information
Information or material that cannot be divulged to others without express permission and/or consent of competent authority.

Commanding Officer – and officer officially appointed to command a unit.

Close of Business – end of the official business day.

Cost of Living allowance – the amount of money paid monthly to compensate for the high cost of living. The amount authorized, if any, varies depending on the location.

The President of the United States – Commander in Chief of al military activities under federal control.

The store where members and their families can purchase food products.

Continental United States

Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System – the automated system that lists those enrolled and indicates their eligibility for military benefits.

Defense Finance and Accounting Service – the federal military activity responsible for all civilian and military pay processing.

A person for whom a member is legally and financially responsible – usually a spouse or child (also called family member)

Temporary relocation of a military unit.

Date of Birth

Date of Rank – the date on which an individual was officially promoted to a specific grade.

Defense Switched Network – the military telephone service.
Exceptional Family Member Program – a program designed to provide support to military families who have members with handicaps or other special needs.

Enlisted Member – a member of the military who is not an officer, warrant officer, or cadet.

Emergency Data Card
A form kept with official records that lists important information for quick reference in case of emergency. It includes names of relatives, addresses, and telephone numbers.

Equal Opportunity

Employer Support Guard and Reserve – a program designed to educate employers and encourage them to support their employees’ service in the Guard and Reserve.

Expiration of Term of Service

Military Department Store
Established in times of contingency call-up, mobilization and large scaled deployment to provide support and assistance to Guard and Reserve Members and their families.

Family Care Plan – soldiers provide written instructions and notarized documents for the care of their family members during separation (can include provisions for finances, wills, and guardianship).

Family Liaison Office.

Family Program Director for the Guard and Reserve

Family Readiness Center – similar to FAC. It’s a family service program.

Family Readiness Group – an officially sanctioned organization of officer and enlisted personnel and their family members. This group provides information and acts as a support network for families and guard members during their association with the unit, especially during periods of separation, e.g., weekend drills, annual training, deployments, and/or mobilization.

Family Readiness Officer – the commander’s staff officer assigned to work family related matters.

Fiscal Year – a year running from 1 October to through the end of September of the following year. Fiscal years are used by congress and the military to budget and control funding for military activities.
A standardized management tool that is used to create an information loop between the National Guard community and leadership, which provides a means of monitoring the process of issue gathering, submission, dispersion, and resolution. See

Education and training program for and about the National Guard Community. Program modules cover a wide variety of topics most often requested by families and National Guard leadership. See
Uniformed Services Identification Card – a distinct ID card identifying individuals as active duty, Reserve, Guard, or retired members authorizing them to receive uniformed services. ID cards are also issued to eligible dependents and other eligible individuals authorizing them to receive uniformed services benefits and privileges.

Information and Referral

Invitational Travel Order – a document authorizing travel by someone not under military authority. Often used to provide government-funded travel to family members.
Judge Advocate General – a military lawyer. Often used to identify the senior military legal advisor to a commander.
Killed in Action
Paid vacation days. A period of time when a service member is on paid vacation and not performing military duties.

Leave and Earning Statement – a service member’s pay slip for military pay. It includes information on gross pay, taxes and other deductions as well as leave earned and taken during a month.
Missing in Action – a term applied to individuals who cannot be located and whose status in unknown.

Montgomery G.I. Bill – tuition assistance for service members

The primary task of the military organization.

The assembling of forces in preparation for deployment. The act of the President of the United States to bring members/units of the Guard ad Reserve to active duty for national emergencies.

Meals Ready to Eat – food packets that do not require refrigeration and can be used by service members who do not have access to prepared hot food.

Military Treatment Facility – A medical facility operated by military that may provide inpatient and/or ambulatory care to eligible TRICARE beneficiaries.

Morale, Welfare, and Recreation
Noncommissioned Officer – senior enlisted service members commonly referred to as sergeants.

National Guard

National Guard Bureau – a joint bureau of the Department of the Army and Department of Air Force to serve as the channel of communication for the National Guard, Army National Guard, and Air National Guard between the Department of the Army, Department of Air Force, and the several states.

National Military Family Association – a not-for-profit private association dedicated to improving the quality of life for military families.
Outside the Continental United States. The continental United States include all states except Hawaii and Alaska.

Officer in Charge – the individual managing or supervising an activity.

Office of Secretary of Defense – the office of the cabinet official responsible for national defense.
Public Affairs Officer – military officer responsible for responding to inquiries from the Press.

Power of Attorney – a legal document that enables one person to sign documents or take actions on behalf of another person.

Point of Contact – a person responsible for a program. The person you call when you need information or assistance.

Privately Owned Vehicle – your family’s car or truck.

The advancement in grade and pay of members in recognition of their ability to perform at a higher level. The basic ceremony includes the reading of the official orders.

Physical training – Army exercise program

Post Exchange – a "department state" like activity on Army installations.
Government–owned housing assigned to personnel or living spaces.
Reserve Components—Reserve Components of the Armed Forces of the United States are: (a). the Army National Guard of the United States; (b). the Army Reserve; (c). the Naval Reserve; (d). the Marine Corps Reserve; (e). the Air National Guard of the United States; (f). the Air Force Reserve; (g). the Coast Guard Reserve

Rear Detachment Commander – an individual, typically an officer, designated to remain behind after a unit’s departure and deployment and other unit members who did not move with unit.

A measure of a unit's ability to accomplish its assigned mission. Factors that contribute to readiness are manning, training and equipment.
Reunion    A period of readjustment that follows a members return from mobilization or training.

Rest & Relaxation or Return & Reunion.
Survivor Benefit Plan – a federal program designed to provide annuity to the spouse and/or dependents after a retired service member dies.

Service Member’s Group Life Insurance – an optional federal program designed to provide insurance coverage to eligible military service members.

Standard Operating Procedure – a set of fixed instructions for routine operations.

Sponsorship Program
Military program in which volunteers greet and help members who have been assigned to a new duty station or unit.

Soldier Readiness Processing

Social Security Number
The Adjutant General

Temporary Duty – military duty or active duty away from the unit of assignment normally for a period of 139 days or less.

Telephone Tree
Also known as a telephone roster. It is a way of transmitting information to a larger group of people.

A health insurance program for eligible military members and their eligible dependents. See TRICARE Glossary of Terms.

Thrift Saving Plan - It offers participants the same type of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under so-called "401(k) plans." Beginning on October 9, 2001, members of the uniformed services will be able to enroll in the TSP during a special 60-day enrollment period.
Department of Veterans Affairs – the federal agency responsible for administering veterans’ benefits and providing services to veteran.
Women, Infants, Children – a program of the Department of Agriculture providing nutrition and education.