You Know You’re An Air Force Spouse When….

You Know You're An Air Force Spouse When

Some people say you become an Air Force spouse when you say, “I do.”

I don’t think that slipping on a wedding band makes you an Air Force spouse.

You Know You're An Air Force Spouse When

Sure, you become a part of the Air Force family but you aren’t fully immersed in the Air Force culture until you’ve spoken these five phrases. They are earworms that embed themselves deeply into your conscience.

When I was newly married to my airman, I swore that I wouldn’t succumb to these military terms. After all, the Air Force was his life and I had my civilian existence.

Eventually these five Air Force phrases weaseled their way into my daily vocabulary.

You too will have no choice but to surrender to the fact that you are one of us. It may take time, but you will get there.

You Know You're An Air Force Spouse When

You Know You’re An Air Force Spouse When You Find Yourself Saying These 5 Phrases

“Roger That”/ “Copy That”

This phrase is used to let the speaker know that you have understood what they said. It’s another way of telling them that the message was received. While it may be such a simple phrase, it is one that is effective in any situation.

 “Can you pick up my dry cleaning after work?”


“My new work number is 555-5555.”


You know you are an Air Force spouse when “roger that” becomes part of your regular speech.


This word is used to let someone know that you need a pause in the conversation.

Your airman will use it while on the phone to put someone on hold and I found myself using this more when I had kids. I would pair it with a hand gesture to accentuate the point.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used this at work too. Of course, the receiver has no idea what I’m saying.

I’m not using “standby” to be rude.

It has just become a verbal tic for me.

“I’d like to make an appointment,” I tell the medic on the phone. He says


because someone has approached the counter.


This phrase is an indicator that you have seen what is being pointed out. In Air Force-speak, there is a difference between seeing a “friendly” and an “enemy.” An enemy would be “tally.”

Most Air Force spouses will only use the term “visual” although I’m not sure why. There have been times where I used it to talk about someone I really didn’t want to see (Any of my friends who are reading this, I wasn’t talking about you).

And don’t think that you’ll only use it while driving. Oh no.

You’ll use it in all facets of life.

“I’m walking toward your building. Which one is it again?”

“The second one on the left.”

“OK. I have a visual.”


“Where is our daughter? Do you have a visual?”

“Not yet. Oh, wait. There she is.”


“Charlie Foxtrot”

This was one of my favorites as well as “SNAFU.” Most people realize that this is using the NATO alphabet to identify when something has gone horribly wrong.

In other words, it’s a clusterfuck.

You use “Charlie Foxtrot” to be more PC or if there are little ears around and you don’t want them to understand what you are saying.

I’ve been married to the military for far too long and so I used to use “SNAFU,” which is an acronym for “Situation normal, all fucked up.” That phrase was easy to use around children. They could glean what it meant but didn’t realize that the acronym used words that they shouldn’t say.

“Everything went wrong at work today. The whole day was a Charlie Foxtrot.”


“I hit a SNAFU during my presentation. It went downhill from there.”


Wild Blue Yonder

You have truly become enmeshed in the military lifestyle when you have memorized the words to the Air Force song. I don’t mean that you know the tune and you can follow along with the words in your program.

No, I’m talking full up memorization.

Bonus points if you add in the extra phrases that aren’t explicitly written in.

Extra points if you include the arm motions. If you have no idea what I mean, you’ve obviously just gotten married to an airman. Otherwise you know what these are and when to add them to the song.

The transformation from “married to the Air Force” to “fully submerged” may be quick or it may slowly seep its way in. Either way, welcome to the family. We’re glad you’re here.

We need people like you and you can totally sit with us!


Want to read more from Karen? Start here.



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