Military mama: Learning language part of military life

Looking back on my first few months (and probably years) as a military wife I will admit I was often confused.

If you saw me with that happy but oh-so-puzzled look on my face, it was likely because you were speaking “military.”

The abbreviations and acronyms are truly a language of their own and tossed out so nonchalantly in every day conversation that I do recall it feeling like an exclusive club and I had not yet earned a membership.

Now, I’m probably the one confusing the “newbies” and “civilians” with my specialized version of English. (Yes, I do realize that no matter how many years in my hubby has, he’ll always be a Newby but despite the name I am more experienced.)

There once was a simpler time where definitions were what was written in the dictionary, not military slang that twists words and letters into a complex new language foreign to most.

I thought …

• classified was where you put your ad for the garage sale;

• clearance was a rack at the back of the store;

• blues were when you were feeling down and out;

• PT meant part time;

• orders were what waitresses take at restaurants;

• COLA was something to drink;

• Alpha Bravo would be a good name for a superhero;

• boots on the ground would be the logical place in the closet;

• frag was a weak attempt at cursing;

• DEERS related to Bambi and family;

• dependent was another name for “de necklace;”

• sponsors were companies plastered on race cars;

• a solo tour was what Justin Timberlake did after splitting from NSync;

• BAH was the language of sheep;

• XO was how you signed love letters.

It didn’t take long for acronyms such as BDU, NCOIC, MP, TDY and PCS to mean a great deal more than alphabet soup. Indeed these letters could mean a change of state or country, uprooting your family. It got even more confusing when I realized that each individual branch had their own variations of certain abbreviations — BX is basically the same as NEX or PX and all run by AAFES.

At times I am still lost in the lingo, however I can chuckle when people get lost in the acronyms and abbreviations. Even in my most naive moments I still couldn’t top when a friend recently confused IUD with an IED in a conversation about a birth control device.

So the language may not be easy, but it accurately reflects the lifestyle. Once you get it, you get it.