Glossary of Military-Related Terms

This brief glossary defines military-related terms used throughout this collection for clarification and easy reference.

Active duty: Military members who are currently serving full-time in their military capacity. Members of reserve units and the National Guard are on active duty only when mobilized by the President. 
Department of Defense (DoD): The Department of Defense provides the military forces needed to deter war and to protect the security of our country. The department’s headquarters is at the Pentagon. 
Family Advocacy Program (FAP): The Department of Defense (DoD) Family Advocacy Program is dedicated to the prevention, early identification, prompt reporting, intervention and treatment of spouse and child abuse. The program provides a variety of services to active duty military personnel and their families to enhance their relationship skills and improve their quality of life. This mission is accomplished through a variety of, life skills seminars and workshops, public awareness campaigns, counseling and other intervention services. (source
Military personnel: A term used to refer to members of any armed force. Military personnel are divided into four (4) branches of service roughly defined by certain circumstances of the deployment of the personnel.

  • The United States Army is the main ground force of the United States. Its’ main function is to protect and defend the United States (and its interest) by way of ground troops, armor (tanks), artillery attack helicopters, tactical nuclear weapons, etc. Those who serve in this typical large land force are called soldiers.
  • The Navy makes it possible for the United States to use the seas where and when our national security require it. Navy aircraft carriers can often deploy aircraft to areas where fixed runways are impossible. The Navy is also responsible for transporting Marines to areas of conflict. Those who serve in the Navy’s seagoing forces are called sailors.
  • The mission of the Air Force is to defend the United States (and its interest) through exploitation of air and space. The Air Force is also responsible for all military satellites and the nation’s strategic nuclear ballistic missiles. Those in the Air Force are referred to as airmen.
  • Marines are members of a body of troops within the Department of the Navy who are trained to serve on land or at sea. Their primary specialty is to assault, capture and control “beach heads” which then provide a route to attack the enemy from almost any direction. Marines are sometimes referred to as the “Infantry of the Navy.”

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Military Sexual Trauma (MST): Psychological trauma resulting from physical assault of a sexual nature, battery of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment which occurred while the Veteran was serving on active duty or active duty for training. Sexual harassment is further defined as "repeated, unsolicited verbal or physical contact of a sexual nature which is threatening in character." (source
Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF): The official name used by the U.S. Government for the War in Afghanistan together with three smaller military actions, under the umbrella of the global War on Terror (GWOT). (source
Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF): The war in Iraq was a military campaign that began on March 20, 2003, with the invasion of Iraq by a multinational force led by troops from the United States under the administration of President George W. Bush and the United Kingdom under Prime Minister Tony Blair. (source
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): An anxiety disorder that can occur after experiencing a traumatic event. During this type of event, the person feels like her/his life or others' lives are in danger as well as loss of control over what is happening. (source
Reserve components: Military organizations whose members generally perform a minimum of 39 days of military duty per year and who augment the active duty (or full-time) military when necessary. The reserve components are also referred to collectively as “the Guard” and “Reserves”. (source
Service member: All military personnel, from the lowest ranking to highest ranking, are service members. Service members are identified by service branch, uniform, specialties and rank. The lowest ranking commissioned officer outranks the highest grade non-commissioned officer. (source
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A specific type of damage to the brain that is caused by external physical force and is not present at birth or degenerative. A blow (or blows) to the head, shaking of the brain, exposure to blasts, loss of oxygen (anoxia), and colliding with a stationary object can cause a TBI. (source
VA: United States Department of Veterans Affairs, formerly the “Veterans Administration” is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense. (source
Veteran: A person who has served in the armed forces, and had direct exposure to acts of military conflict, commonly known as “war veterans.” Note that service in military conflicts may not involve direct combat, and not all cases in which armed combat takes place are necessarily referred to as "wars." (source)