by Amanda Marksmeier
Spend just a few minutes at any military base and you will discover an entirely new language full of odd phrases and acronyms. While terms like PCS, LES and BAH are imperative to a military spouse’s survival, there are some terms that sound quite strange coming from military spouses’ mouths.
4 Common Military Phrases That Sound Strange When Military Spouses Say Them
Hooah and Oorah
“Hooah” is widely used in the Army and Air Force as the standard answer to any question.
“Oorah!” is the Marines’ version.
The military thrives on discipline and obedience so no matter how the service member really wants to respond to “You have extra duty this weekend” they are expected to answer with an enthusiastic “Hooah” or “Oorah.”
We, as military spouses, should shy away from using these terms. Think about it. When your spouse comes home with deployment news, are you really excited about it? Would you reply, “That’s great news, I am so happy to hear it!”?
“Hooah” and “Oorah” doesn’t accurately communicate the authentic feelings of a military spouse.
Latrine and The Head
The military uses both terms to refer to the restroom. I don’t know about you, but when I hear someone say latrine it evokes images of dirty port-o-johns and dingy yellow titled rooms, with blinking fluorescent lights and urinals troughs.
The oasis you created in your home to resemble a quiet spa-like retreat with fluffy white mats, calming pale blue walls and a lavender Scentsy burning should never be referred to as a latrine. Isn’t powder room a much better description?
Buck up is used to inspire troops to embrace the suck and push through. When military spouses use this phrase, it is usually done in a sarcastic “Buck Up buttercup” kind of way.
Your spouse is gone for a week and missing your anniversary. Buck up buttercup! PCSing to a less than desirable place? Buck up buttercup!
I admit I have been guilty of this. I sometimes forget how difficult it can be as a new military spouse. It might be our seventh deployment or fifth PCS in four years, but it is someone’s first. Just because I have learned to accept the ups and downs of the military life, I must remember many spouses struggle with finding acceptance and balance in a difficult situation.
Instead of telling our fellow spouses to “buck up” we should be asking how they are and remind them to stay strong.
Deployments, Rotations and TDY
We have all heard a new spouse say, “My spouse is on deployment to Germany.” While we suppress an eye roll, we often forget we probably didn’t know the correct terms when we started out.
A deployment is defined as the movement of troops to a place or position for military action. Deployments are usually three, six or nine months long but can vary depending on assignment and branch. These movements take place in combat zones such as Iraq or Afghanistan.
A rotation is when a military unit relives another unit in a non-combat environment such as Kuwait or Korea for a fixed amount of time anywhere from nine to twelve months.
A TDY (Temporary Duty Assignment) refers to a service member who is on assignment at a location other than his or her permanent duty station. TDYs can take place stateside or overseas and is usually for no more than 139 days.
Here are four military terms and phrases military spouses should be using.
Mandatory fun refers to a company or unit sponsored event which service members are required to attend. These events can be organizational days which include football, fishing or another group activity, so there is fun to be had.
After attending our first unit organizational day, I adopted this term and use it every time we go out as a family. When given the choice to participate in a family outing, my kids usually say no. I have a teenager who has a very active social life and an eleven-year-old that we have to pry the game controller from his hands just to eat.
I no longer give them a choice; I give them a command.
You will come, you will have fun and you will enjoy time with your family. That’s an order!
This term gives the illusion that it is optional, however, we all know it really means you have been selected to volunteer for a task.
In a perfect world, my kids would volunteer to take out the trash or mow the lawn, but just like most of you, I don’t live in a perfect world. So, voluntold is how most things get done in our house.
Got Your Six
On the face of a clock, the number six is directly under or behind the twelve. In the military when someone says “Got your six,” it means “I’ve got your back.” In a combat situation “got your six” literally means “I’ve got you covered, I will look out for you and protect you.”
This is a great phrase to use as a military spouse. It is so important that we all have our fellow spouses’ backs.
The 6 refers to the commander in charge, so Household 6 is a joking way to say commander in charge of the household. As military spouses most of us are responsible for the household.
We know where everything is (my husband still has no idea where anything is in our kitchen). We keep up with the kids’ schedules and pay bills in addition to having careers of our own, so of course we are the commanders of the household.
What are some common military terms you have heard military spouses use?
Amanda Marksmeier is an Army wife and mother of four. She works as an employment specialist assisting the military community in achieving their career goals. Amanda is also a contributing writer for a quarterly employment journal and has written for several military affiliated blogs.