My first day at the Sierra Club, someone asked me about my military experience. I think I responded something like this:
“I was an O3, 35D, but I think my MOS has been reclassified to something in the 90s, though funnily enough I ended up being a 35A anyway. I served in OIF as a CA Officer, both A and B Team Leader and carried an M4 and an M9. I even drove the HMMWV a few times.”*
Other than seeing my questioner’s eyes perk up at HMMWV (not a popular vehicle choice around this office), all that I said took the individual from a blank stare to something closing in on abject terror. I was speaking a different language.
The military vocabulary that is still so fresh in my own mind, more comfortable to speak in even than regular ‘civvy talk’ is a crazy mix of acronyms and alpha numerics to other people. I’m still shocked that people do not know what OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom) or OEF (Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan) stand for, we’ve been at war for 10+ years now, but I get that America may not know all that it should about its own military. There have been a few things after all, going on back home.
So, below are three links and one paper that may help you, the non-veteran or active duty service member or non-military family member, or someone part of the military community that needs a refresher, understand a bit more about the Department of Defense you support.
This is not a full primer. In fact, I’d greatly appreciate it if other interested readers would be willing to add in their own favorite links, stories, or helpful hints for better understanding the infrastructure, vocabulary, and culture that defines the greatest fighting force on planet Earth!
An exhaustive list of military acronyms
The rank structure (good luck with Warrant Officers)
Understanding the challenges and opportunities for our military youth
And, click below to download a short article on one psychologist's view point of working with veterans and active duty service members.
Let us know what you think and hopefully in a little while you can tell the difference between an O3, an E4, OIF, and QVC!
~Stacy Bare, OIF Veteran
Military Families and Veteran Representative to the Sierra Club
"Helping America's Military and Veteran Community experience the freedom of the land they defend"
*Captain, Intelligence Officer, Military Occupational Skill, which in the Army are all alpha numerics, the 90s used to be all intel, but once 35D meant that you were an all source intelligence officer. 35A was the numeric for Civil Affairs (I think). Operation Iraqi Freedom, Civil Affairs, M4 is the assault rifle most soldiers used, while an M9 is the side arm we were issued. I’ll let you determine what a HMMWV is….