Military Jargon 101: What is a POV or PCS? Why Local Offutt AFB Businesses Should Know…

January 20, 2008

I often laugh when I recall one of my first introductions to military acronyms. My husband had recently returned from Desert Storm and he kept telling a war story involving a “POV”. After hearing the term several times I finally asked what a “POV” was. He looked at me (surprised by my question I think) and matter-of-factly responded, “a privately owned vehicle”. There was a pregnant pause while I deciphered the information. Then I asked, “do you mean a C. A. R.”?

Now, after 19 years as an Army spouse the military jargon is just part of my every day conversation. I often forget others have no idea what I’m talking about! I originally typed the information below to help my fellow “civilian” real estate team members and lenders. I wanted them to understand the terminology they would often be hearing from my military clients during our real estate transactions in order to better assist them.

Most of the terms are pretty universal, however, I should warn you each branch of service has some variation to the lingo. For example, in the Army we call the military facility a “post”, the Air Force calls it a “base”. My disclaimer is that I’m also a wife, therefore I’m communicating these terms the way I interpret them. I’m sure some of our retired or active duty service members may find some corrections, or have some additions. If so please post them for us!

I hope all of you “civilians” out there find this list helpful, I’m sure you’ve heard some of these acronyms thrown around but were afraid to ask what they were. By understanding what some of these terms mean, you’ll be of much better service to your military & government employees. I speak from experience (9 or so moves in 19 years), when someone takes the time to learn more about my lifestyle, it’s truly appreciated and noticed — it will get you referrals!

Here are some commonly used acronyms you may hear during your real estate transaction involving Military families;

PCS = “Permanent Change of Station” (although there’s nothing “permanent” about it!). In “civilian” terms PCS = Move

TDY = “Temporary Duty Assignment”, in “civilian” terms TDY = Business Trip

TDY IN ROUTE = Moving to a new base (or post), but temporarily stopping at another base for a short assignment before moving to permanent location. (Typically, they are going to a short-term school first, then on to their long-term assignment.) Although there’s much inconvenience to this, soldiers get paid more money for TDY in Route moves.

PERMISSIVE TDY = Paid time (not counting against vacation time) allotted to house-hunt. Service members are alloted 10 days if stationed in a different state/overseas to find a home in a new location. If they wait until arriving to their new destination, they are only allotted 8 days (the military is basically subtracting the two days of travel time).

DEPLOYED = Service member is overseas on an assignment where family/spouses are not able to accompany him/her. They are often in war zones when deployed.

STATIONED (i.e. where all have you been stationed?) = Bases where they have been assigned/lived

LEAVE = Vacation Time – all military (regardless of rank) are given 2.5 days per month – about 30 days – of paid leave per year.

TERMINAL LEAVE = Used by military who are retiring. They can save leave and actually stop working up to 2 months (I believe) before their actual retirement date and still get paid. Essentially it is unused paid vacation, but there is a cap.

BILLETING = Base Hotel/Lodging.

TLF = “Temporary Lodging Facility” – basically another word for hotel, but these are usually a little bigger than billeting with washer/dryers & kitchens.

BILLETING/TLF INFORMATION FYI: Active Duty Military who are PCSing are considered a “priority 1” and are allowed to stay up to 30 days in billeting once they arrive with orders. Uncle Sam pays for the first 10 days at the hotel, after 10 days the service member begins paying out of pocket. (However, they can begin receiving their BAH(housing allowance – see below).

Once the 30 day stay has expired, they become a “priority 2”, which means they must check with the front desk every 3 days to see if there is still availability – because now anyone that is a “priority 1” bumps them off the list. If there isn’t space they’ll have to find another place to stay off base – which is much more expensive (at least double per day cost compared to on base daily charge). They must also pay the 3 days at a time in advance.

**If there is no availability on base the service member must get a TLF Form from base for permission to have the first 10 days paid for off base – they need to contact finance first to see how much they are allowed per day because if they exceed this amount, they must pay the difference.

Retired Military are always considered a “priority 2” and must follow the 3 day at a time rule above.

R.F.O. = “Request for Orders”. This is the form they receive stating their orders are being processed; however, it is not considered “official” until you receive “Orders” (see below). This is an Army term.

ORDERS = Final notice of assignment. This is the “official” document stating where you are moving and the day you begin working there. **Military MUST have official orders before they can make appointments to have items packed/shipped.

REPORT DATE = The day the service member must start (report) to their new job.

PACK-OUT DATES = The days the movers are coming to pack their belongings (can vary anywhere from 2-5 days depending upon how many household goods they have).

HOUSEHOLD GOODS = Their personal belongings

DITI MOVE = “Do It Yourself Move”. Some (not many) service members choose to pack their own belongings, load them on the truck, and deliver on their own. They choose this route because the government pays them nicely for it, however, the service member is now liable for any breakage, not the government.

PARTIAL DITI = A smaller version of the DITI above. Rent a small trailer to load only some of your personal belongings. You can get the vehicle weighed empty, then full. The government will pay you so much per pound of items you move yourself.

HOUSING ALLOWANCE / BAH = “Basic Allowance for Housing”. This is the amount the government gives each military member for rent/mortgage payment. This amount is determined by rank, area, and whether the service member has dependants or not. Service Members are paid more BAH if they are married and/or have children (with dependants), less if they are single (no dependants). Here’s a link you can find out their housing allowance based upon rank & zipcode. If the service member chooses to live on base, the government just keeps their BAH.

COLA = Extra monies service members receive overseas to compensate for the dollar rate vs. the currency of the country they reside in. This becomes important for service members moving back to the U.S. after being stationed overseas. The service member was basically being paid extra money to while living abroad. Therefore, moving back can drastically change their income. For instance, when we moved back to the U.S. after being stationed in Germany we lost over $1000 per month (due to the Euro being worth more than the U.S. dollar).

DISLOCATION ALLOWANCE = Money given to service members each time they move – amount varies based on rank, location etc. The purpose of the money is to offset some of the moving expenses such as purchasing new home supplies, cleaning, food, utility deposits, etc. Many times service members will use this money towards closing costs.

OVERSEAS ASSIGNMENTS = Most military stationed overseas will ship their household goods and vehicles about 30 days prior to moving back to the U.S. Their items go on a ship, therefore, it takes 4-6 weeks for their household goods to arrive in the U.S. They will often still live in their government quarters (military housing) using government loaner furniture until they leave.

EXPRESS SHIPMENT or HOLD BAGGAGE = A small shipment military members can send earlier than their regular household goods. It’s typically items they’ll need immediately upon arrival such as clothing, towels, pots & pans. Because it’s a small shipment it will arrive overseas quickly often waiting for them when they get there (or back here from overseas).

JAGG or Legal Aid: On base Lawyer. Military service members can get free “legal advice” & document preparation (but not representation). In regards to real estate – they can go to JAGG to get a Special Power of Attorney for Real Estate (if their spouse cannot attend closing, or for the agent) at no cost. They can also seek free legal advice if something goes awry in their house deal.

Thanks to each and every military family for your sacrifices, and also to those local businesses who take such great care of our military service members and their families!

PCSing to the Offutt AFB area? Visit my Military Page at for more information on the area and locat real estate.

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