How to Write Military Names & Ranks on Invitations?



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   1. Formula For
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   2. Q&A / Blog On
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   3. Q&A / Blog on
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How to Write The Names of Members
Of the Armed Services on Invitations
      &
How to Address Invitations
To Members of The Armed Services

Questions & Answers, Frequently Asked Questions, and Blog


Site updated by Robert Hickey on August 8, 2014

Writing Invitations
How to List Retired Officers on Invitations?       
How to List Retired Enlisted Personnel on Invitations?      
How to List an Officer as Groom on an Invitation?      
How to List a Officer as Father of the Bride on an Invitation?           
How to List a Warrant Officer as Father of the Bride on an Invitation?     
How to List a Bride & Groom - Both in the Service - on an Invitation?     

How to Decide Which Rank to Use on the Invitation
     If the Groom is about to get Promoted?

How Is Branch of Service Used on Invitations?   
Do I Use Military Time on Military Invitations?     

Addressing Invitations  
How to Address Military Personnel on Invitations?            
How to Address Enlisted Personnel on Invitations?         
How to Address an Officer Who is an M.D.?          
May I Abbreviate Ranks on Invitations?     

Addressing Invitations: Joint Forms of Address
How to Address Two Officers of Equal Rank Using Abbreviated Ranks?        
How to Address Two Officers of Equal Rank, Spelling Out the Ranks?        
How to Address an Officer and Her Civilian Husband?          
How to Address a Two Officers on Unequal Rank?
       
How to Address an Officer Who is an M.D. & Spouse?            

 

Writing Military Invitations

How to Write Chief Warrant Officer on an Invitation?
     Sir:
     I am a retired Chief Warrant Office Five. When using my rank on the wedding invitation should I use Chief Warrant Officer Five or Chief Warrant Officer? Is the following correct?:

Chief Warrant Officer Five and Mrs. John Doe
request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter
Jan Doe
to Mr. Adam Smith

    I appreciate your guidance.
             -- V/r, John

Dear John:
 
  The One, Two, Three, Four, or Five (stepped ranks) of Warrant Officer are not used socially. A best option is:
Chief Warrant Officer and Mrs. John Doe
    FYI .... most formally you are Chief Warrant Officer John Doe and Mrs. Doe keeping your rank & name as a unit, but the Chief Warrant Officer and Mrs. version is typical used on invitations where space is an issue.

     
       -- Robert Hickey

Which Form of Rank Should I Use on an Invitation?
The Officer's Full Rank? Or the Short Version of Rank?

      Why is it that when you need a current military protocol handbook you can never find one?  My Department of State handbook mentions nothing about this particular question, so, a friend referred me to you.
      In particular, concerning how to write the name of a soon-to-be commissioned Second Lieutenant, USMC, onhis graduation and commissioning invitation,  the question is ... on the return/RSVP and on the personal "calling card" enclosed, which is more proper...Name, followed by Lieutenant, USMC or Second Lieutenant, USMC?
      Back in my youth, it was common for Lieutenants to abstain from including either "Second" or "First" in invitations, or on calling cards.  But, what is the current format?
      My brother, a West Point graduate, insists that simply "Lieutenant" is proper, while I, a former NCO, hold that the proper format is to include either "Second" or "First"  Lieutenant on all invitations or calling cards and related items.
      If you would, could you make a call on this and provide a reference or two...have to get these items off to the printers soonest and wish to make sure that the young officer gets off on the right foot?
      Thank you,
      -- Sincerely,
         JWE in Bowling Green, OH

Dear JWE in Bowling Green:
     
FIRST about whether it's "Lieutenant" or "Second Lieutenant."
      CORRESPONDANCE: In the past, forms of address for USA lieutenants varied slightly from USAF and USMC lieutenants which I think is the source of the various “right forms” you are encountering.  But, current DOD directives show forms of address in writing for official correspondance to be identical for all services.
Use the form I give on page 209 of my book:
        Second Lieutenant (full name), USMC
              (Address)

      1) E.g., The Air Force uses “full ranks” in writing, and “basic ranks” orally. So a (non-com) USAF Technical Sergeant is “Technical Sergeant (name) in writing, and “Sergeant (name)” orally.
      3) The Army, as your brother notes, had used “basic rank” in both instances, but the USA currently uses “full” and “basic” the same as everyone else.  FYI ... here's the current USA document .... see Table 6.1: http://www.army.mil/usapa/epubs/pdf/p600_60.pdf
      SECOND, ON INVITATIONS .. All that said .... On a formal invitation (like a wedding invitation) it is typical for junior officers to have their names presented as:

(Full name)
Second Lieutenant, United States Marine Corps

      Note that this is all spelled out (no abbreviations), on two lines.
     This sort of thing is one reason I prepared my book the way I did: I give you the answer, not the history of every form -- That would have made the book 1,576 pages rather than just 576!
         -- Robert Hickey

How To Write the Name of a Father of The Bride
Who is an Officer On The Invitation?

      How to I address or list the father of the bride who is a retired Major General on a wedding invitation? I am checking your site and you said that you don't list "retired" on social invitations. Does that include "Major Generals" also? Just making sure I write out the invites correctly.  Thank you,
 
         -- The Wedding Planner, Norwalk, CT

Dear TWPNC:
     Socially ... invitations, holiday or birthday cards, personal letters, thank-you notes, and all other personal unofficial mail ... you don't use branch of service or retired when listing the name OR on the envelope when sending it.
     On official communications ... letters regarding their actions as a military officer -- for both active and retired -- you do use branch of service and if retired ... you do use Ret. or Retired.
     This is the formula suggested in Department of Defense guidelines (and I include it on page 94 of my book), so it comes from the very top of the top at the Pentagon. It applies to all personnel ... officers, enlisted ... and both guests and fathers of brides!

 
         -- Robert Hickey

How to Decide Which Rank to Use On the Invitation
If the Bridegroom is About to Get a New Rank?

      In your book you show the forms for all the Air Force ranks, even for a cadet a the USAF Academy. My situation is what if an Air Force cadet was getting married a week after getting commissioned. At the time of the wedding the cadet will be a 2nd Lt but when the invitations go out he would still be a cadet.
      When sending the invitations for their military wedding, would they put as his rank 2nd Lt or Cadet? Cadets hold no rank prior to commissioning or are listed as an E-3 in the reserve, it's a really gray area.  What should be the rank on the invitation?

         -- V/R, John Victoria

Dear VR
    If he will be a 2nd Lt on the date of the wedding ... use 2nd Lt on the invitation.
    That will be his correct name and rank at the event.
    Only potential snafu will be ... if anything gets in the way of the commissioning!

          -- Robert Hickey

How to Write The Names of Military Personnel
On a Wedding Invitation, When Both are Military?

       I was looking at your blog on forms of address for military invitations. My fiance and I are both active-duty military.  I am a Navy Lieutenant Commander (O4) and he is a Marine Chief Warrant Officer Five.  He will be in uniform for the wedding, I will not.  Should we both have our ranks on the invitations?  If so, could you please advise on how this should be written.  Using John and Jane Doe, Is it:

at the marriage of
Jane Doe
Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy
to
John Doe
Chief Warrant Officer Five, United States Marine Corps

on...

       Thanks in advance,
              -- Laura

Dear Laura,
       I asked my experts on military protocol and military invitations to give me their view, and here's what I found. Pamela Eyring, Director of The Protocol School of Washington (PSOW) says: "The Blue Book of Stationary suggests members of the US armed forces follow the same etiquette as civilian weddings with the exception of the use of military titles & service designations.  Military titles are never abbreviated
unless necessary because of space limitations.  The rank should be placed on the same line as the name, with the service listed the next line below.  To have consistency on the invitation, my recommendation would be to use both as rank+name and branch of service:

Lieutenant Commander Jane Doe
United States Navy
to
Chief Warrant Officer John Doe
United States Marine Corps

      I also asked Diane Brown of Protocol Solutions and a fellow training facilitator at the PSOW and she added:  "Historically, use of ranks by military personnel was only for officers 03 and above. If they were not an 03 or above, the rank would appear on the second line with the branch of service." 
      "From my perspective, the military has evolved in many ways regarding enlisted service members, so I wouldn't be opposed to using the enlisted rank, if desired by the military couple.  Often, military members simply do not use their ranks."   
      "The Service Etiquette book has some good examples of wedding invitations for service members." 
      "Simple points:
            1.  Ladies name first.
            2.  Rank should be spelled out followed by the name.
            3.  The service should be under the name, spelled out. 
     
"Bottom line:  In this case, I would do it as Pam suggested above." 
      Also note that neither Pam or Diane includes "Five" with "Chief Warrant Officer."  DoD guides say "the numbers" aren't used in social address.
      Let me know if that helps.
              -- Robert Hickey

Thank you Robert
      I am still undecided whether or not to use my rank on the invitation but my fiance will definitely use his.  I appreciate your assistance and think it's pretty cool that you asked someone in military protocol since I am transferring to the Pentagon in a few months!
              -- Laura

How to Write The Names of Military Personnel
On a Wedding Invitation, When Both are Military?

       I was looking at your blog on forms of address for military invitations. My fiance and I are both active-duty military.  I am a Navy Lieutenant Commander (O4) and he is a Marine Chief Warrant Officer Five.  He will be in uniform for the wedding, I will not.  Should we both have our ranks on the invitations?  If so, could you please advise on how this should be written.  Using John and Jane Doe, Is it:

at the marriage of
Jane Doe
Lieutenant Commander, United States Navy
to
John Doe
Chief Warrant Officer Five, United States Marine Corps

on...

       Thanks in advance,
              -- Laura

Dear Laura,
       I asked my experts on military protocol and military invitations to give me their view, and here's what I found. Pamela Eyring, Director of The Protocol School of Washington (PSOW) says: "The Blue Book of Stationary suggests members of the US armed forces follow the same etiquette as civilian weddings with the exception of the use of military titles & service designations.  Military titles are never abbreviated
unless necessary because of space limitations.  The rank should be placed on the same line as the name, with the service listed the next line below.  To have consistency on the invitation, my recommendation would be to use both as rank+name and branch of service:

Lieutenant Commander Jane Doe
United States Navy
to
Chief Warrant Officer John Doe
United States Marine Corps

      I also asked Diane Brown of Protocol Solutions and a fellow training facilitator at the PSOW and she added:  "Historically, use of ranks by military personnel was only for officers 03 and above. If they were not an 03 or above, the rank would appear on the second line with the branch of service." 
      "From my perspective, the military has evolved in many ways regarding enlisted service members, so I wouldn't be opposed to using the enlisted rank, if desired by the military couple.  Often, military members simply do not use their ranks."   
      "The Service Etiquette book has some good examples of wedding invitations for service members." 
      "Simple points:
            1.  Ladies name first.
            2.  Rank should be spelled out followed by the name.
            3.  The service should be under the name, spelled out. 
     
"Bottom line:  In this case, I would do it as Pam suggested above." 
      Also note that neither Pam or Diane includes "Five" with "Chief Warrant Officer."  DoD guides say "the numbers" aren't used in social address.
      Let me know if that helps.
              -- Robert Hickey

Thank you Robert
      I am still undecided whether or not to use my rank on the invitation but my fiance will definitely use his.  I appreciate your assistance and think it's pretty cool that you asked someone in military protocol since I am transferring to the Pentagon in a few months!
              -- Laura

How to Write a Wedding Invitation
When the Bride & Groom Are Both Active-Duty?

       I am a First Lieutenant and he is a Captain. Whose name should appear first?  I always understood the female should be, but he out ranks me. We are paying for the wedding ourselves and both families are contributing.  Who’s name should go first?

First Lieutenant Jane Doe
And
Captain John Wilson

      Regarding including my rank: I've read on your blog that the rank is listed before the name for ranks 03 or above?
              -- 1st Lieutenant Bride

Dear 1st. Lieutenant Bride,
       On a wedding invitation the bride is listed first.
Ladies first.
       On a mailing envelope, or inside envelope, .... Yes ... the higher rank would be first, lower rank second, regardless of gender.
      
There is a "rule" that usually only ranks above 03 are listed before the name, and that might makes sense if your parents were issuing the invitation. It doesn't makes any sense if you are issuing the invitation yourself.
       On military wedding invitations, branches of service are included.  If parents are not listed .... the best formats are:

First Lieutenant Jane Doe
United States Air Force
and
Captain John Wilson
United States Army
request the honor of your presence
etc.

The honor of your presence
is requested at the marriage of
First Lieutenant Jane Doe
United States Air Force
and
Captain John Wilson
United States Army
etc.

              -- Robert Hickey

How to Write Military Rank & "Retired" On An Invitation
     Could you please assist with the proper wording of a wedding invitation for my son's wedding? My husband retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Marine Corps, and although the bride's parents are issuing the wedding invitation, our names will appear on the invitation.  The reason for this is that the private club at which my husband (not the bride's family) is a member requires that the name of the club member appear on social invitations.
     My question is whether designation as a "Retired" Marine Corps officer must be indicated on the wedding invitation?  The major problem is that my husband's name and title cover the entire length of the invitation, and there are no more spaces to include (Retired, USMC) on that line.  The bride's family has wondered if guests might assume that my husband is still on active duty.  Our stationer's research with Crane Paper Company (Crane's Blue Book of Stationery) states "When the bride's father is an officer and issues the wedding invitations with his wife, his military title precedes his name."
     The current wording goes something like this:

Dr. and Mrs. Edward Thompson Smith
request the honor of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Jane Anne Smith
to
Mr. Alexander William Wilson
son of
Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. William Wilson
 (Date)
 (Time)
 (Place)
 (City)

                                                                                    -- Annie G.

Dear Annie:
    What you've suggested looks good with some comments:
    1) Including the "USMC" and "Retired" would be important at an official event where active-duty officers and retired officers were attending in an official capacity.
    At this social occasion there won't be confusion whether the "Lt. Col." is there in an official capacity.
    2) There also a style of abbreviations used by the armed forces: DOD Abbreviations for Ranks and Ratings, These are service specific -- LTC for the Army, LtCol for the Marines, Lt Col for the Air Force. Capitalization, spaces, and lack of punctuation are as noted. These are always used at official armed forces occasions. Many military protocol officers use them as social events as well. Using them would be immediately understandable to service personnel, but might seem unusual to some civilians.
    3) What Crane means by "When the bride's father is an officer and issues the wedding invitation with his wife, his military title precedes his name" is that the most formal way to write the names would be for the "title" to immediately precede the name:
       
Dr. John Edward Smith and Mrs. Smith
        Lieutenant Colonel Maurice Oliver Volentine Green and Mrs. Green


    The "Dr. and Mrs." and the "Lt. Col. and Mrs." are less formal forms.
    The "title immediately preceding the name" is more of an issue with very high officials such as
       
The Honorable John Edward Smith and Mrs. Smith
        The Reverend John Edward Smith and Mrs. Smith


    In these case you want to avoid...
      
  The Honorable and Mrs. John Edward Smith.
        The Reverend and Mrs. John Edward Smith

                          -- Robert Hickey

How to Write a "(Rank), Retired" on an Invitation?
     Good afternoon. I have a question concerning the use of rank in a wedding invitation for a retired Chief Warrant Officer Four of the US Army.
     Would the invitation start as:
    "Chief Warrant Officer, USN Retired & Mrs. Richard Dean James"  or  " Retired USN Chief Warrant Officer & Mrs. Richard Dean James"
     I've tried several etiquette books however, and can only find information on commissioned officers.
                   -- Ms. Wedding Planner

Dear Ms. WP:
    I cover warrant officers in my book, but you are right, all the other books only cover commissioned officers.
    1) The 1, 2, 3, 4 rankings of Warrant Officers don't appear on a wedding invitation.
    2) Branch of service and active/retired status do not appear with the service member's name in social use.
    Most formally and correctly it should read:
   
        Chief Warrant Officer (full name) and Mrs. (surname)
    If space is an issue, and this would would be shorter .... but also less formal ....
   
        Chief Warrant Officer and Mrs. (man's full name)
     
               -- Robert Hickey

Do I Use Military Time on a Military Invitation?
     My family is hosting a commissioning of my brother who is becoming a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army. Since he's entering the world of military time and 'twenty-four hundred hours" should we use military time on the invitation?
        --
Jessica W., Athens, Georgia

Dear Jessica,
      In the US Army's Protocol Guide they don't use
               1400 hours
     They use
               at two o'clock
      See below.:

                
      -- Robert Hickey


Addressing Invitations to Military Personnel

How to Address Invitations of Military Personnel?
    How do your address outside wedding envelopes for military (Air Force and Army) active and retired, enlisted and officers.  It is not a military wedding however many military will be attending. 
     -- Diane

Dear Diane:
   Answering that question is a chapter in itself ... and I have a whole chapter on it in my book. Check it out pages 205-224 is for the US armed services. The British, Canadian and Australian armed services each have their own chapters too.
   The correct social form of address on a wedding invitation to active duty officers and enlisted would be
            Rank or Rating + Full name
              
   Address
   Examples would include:

            General William Smith
                 Address
            Ensign Susan Scott
                 Address
            Chief Warrant Officer Nancy Thompson
                 Address
            Gunnery Sergeant Brian Tillman
                 Address
    1) You don't identify/include their branch of service ... USA, USAF, USN, USMC, or USCG ... after the name on social correspondence (a wedding invitation is social correspondence.)  You do include branch of service on official correspondence.
    2) And finally, you don't indicate whether the are "active duty" or "retired" on social correspondence.

 
                    -- Robert Hickey

How to Address Enlisted Personnel on an Invitation?
    I am engaged to a member of the Marine Corps and have several military invitations that I'm trying to address. I seem to have all the Marine's under control with their ranks; however, I have a couple of members of the Navy and am unsure how to address their outer envelope. I know that enlisted Navy personnel have rates (such as PO2) instead of an actual rank, but do not know how you use this on the invitation. Thank you in advance for your help!
        -- Katie (and Todd)

Dear Katie (and Todd),
    I cover the Navy on pages 215-224.  The USN has both officers and enlisted personnel. All are addressed the same way on social correspondence: {Rank/Rating} + {Name}. The most formal way to address an envelope is to do so without abbreviations, spelling out every word. So, for example:
           Petty Officer Second Class (name)
              Address
    is more formal than:
           PO2 (name)
               Address
   
But when a name gets very long and space becomes an issue ... using the abbreviation HM2 is absolutely acceptable.
    USN (the post-nominal abbreviation for the branch of service) is not included after a name on social correspondence. It is used on official correspondence.
    You don't say which ranks/ratings your guests have so I can't be much more specific ... but Cranes Blue Book of Stationery has lots of information on addressing wedding invitations and place cards for your reception.  I updated the book with Pamela Eyring (Director of The Protocol School of Washington) in 2008.

            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address An Invitation's Outside Envelope
To a Member of the Armed Service
?

     I stumbled across your website and am in desperate need of the proper way to address the attendants for our wedding ceremony. Although it is military inspired, and the groom will be in uniform (he's a 2nd Lieut in the army), it will not be officially conducted by the military. However, since I have included the groom's rank (lieutenant) in the invitation itself, I think it would only be proper to address the envelopes with the proper rank of those invited. There will only be the outer envelope to address.
    The first person is a 1st lieutenant in the army. It will be addressed to
                 _____ Will (last name) and Guest
                     Address (street, etc.)

    Another attendant is a staff sergeant in the army.  It will be addressed to
                 ____ Jose (last name) and Guest
                     Address (street, etc.)

    I read somewhere that there is a difference between the addressing of officers, NCOs, and enlisted. I am very confused b/c I have read also that whether you are a 1st Lieut. or 2nd Lieut, you just simply use Lieutenant.  Please help me know how to write the mailing address for these ranks! I'm not finding very consistent information!
    Thank you and very grateful,

   
           -- Brittany

Dear Brittany:
    I cover every every U.S. Armed Service rank and rating in detail in my book. Use (Full Rank) or (Full Rating) on the outside, mailing envelope. All personnel follow the same formula:
    (Full Rating or Rank) (Full Name)
            First Lieutenant William French
               123 Alphabet Court
                  City, State, ZIP

            Chief Warrant Officer Joseph German
               456 Alphabet Court
                  City, State, ZIP

            Staff Sergeant Thomas English
               789 Alphabet Court
                  City, State, ZIP

  
       -- Robert Hickey

Robert
  Thank you very much for your quick response! I will definitely recommend your book. You have been a big stress reliever!

   
           -- Brittany

May I Address Invitations Using Abbreviated Ranks?    
   I am wondering if it is improper to use abbreviated ranks on an invitation's envelope. Would this be correct?
                LTC & Mrs. John Smith
                   Address
  
  ... (on the envelope)
                -- Diana in Baltimore

Dear Diana:
    Most formally everything in an address on a formal invitation's envelope is spelled out ... except for ...
        1) State abbreviations: MD, VA, PA ... because that's what the US Postal service requests
        2) ... and by the Armed Services .... the service-specific abbreviations for ranks ..  LTC vs. LtCol vs. Lt Col  ... for the Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, Marines, and Air Force respectively.
     These
abbreviations are always used by the U.S. Armed Services. You can use them too, but just make sure you get caps and spacing right or you will put your guest into the wrong service.
    One comment on the way you wrote the name. Most formally when addressing a person who has an honorific, rank or title other than Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. you shouldn't break up their "honorific" from their name ...
    So rather than:
  
           LTC and Mrs. John Smith
                 Address

    Most formally it would be:
  
           LTC John Smith
       
           and Mrs. Smith
                      Address
   The logic is that the person with the rank gets his or her name on a line by itself.
        -- Robert Hickey

Is Branch of Service Included When Addressing an Invitation?
     I retired from the US Navy with the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 1991.
     My son is marrying.  He and his intended are sending out wedding invitations
     Would the invitation to my bride and me be addressed simply as:
          LCDR and Mrs. William A. Grillo
 
             or
         
LCDR and Mrs. William A. Grillo, USN
     The retired component would not be included since this is not military/official related correspondence as I understand it.
                 Very Respectfully
                 Bill Grillo, El Cajon, CA

Dear LCDR Grillo:
    I cover this in my book on pages 147 and 217.
    RE: USN
 
        USN and Retired are not used on social correspondence.
   
     So no USN
    RE: LDCR and Mrs. William A. Grillo
 
       The most formal way would be:
     
           Lieutenant Commander William A. Grillo
   
                and Mrs. Grillo
       
                24274 Henderson Drive
         
       
           Le Cajon, CA 92020-1700
        Using the LDCR is the standard in military correspondence, but not in civilian
correspondence.  Assuming this may be an invitation extended by a civilian, using the service-specific abbreviation is certainly O.K. ... but for spelling out every word is the most formal.
    And lastly ... you may see ... LDCR and Mrs. William A. Grillo here and there. It's not the formal way since, most formally an officer get's his or her name as a unit  ...
LDCR William A. Grillo ... and the spouse gets his or her name as a unit too.  So while some sources says it's O.K. ... it is not used on invitations sent out by the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon and not by The White House.
                   -- Robert Hickey

How to Address a Military Physician On an Invitation?
    My fiance has a friend who is a medical doctor who is also on active duty with a rank of Captain in the Air Force, where he practices medicine.  How should we address the wedding invitation? 
          -- Carol B.

Dear Carol B.:
    All active-duty armed service personnel are addressed as:
   
            (Rank) + (Name)
    For a written address, there are different forms for "official" and "social" correspondence: I cover that in detail in my chapter on Forms of Address for US Armed Services in my book.  Here's the answer:

    On social correspondence post-nominal abbreviations are not used ... thus there no USAF and MSC with his name.
    A wedding invitation's mailing envelope uses the social form:

   
            Captain William Blake
  
                Address
    If you are using inside envelopes, the form is to use you would call him, and most formally that would be:
  
              Captain Blake
    He might identify himself as Dr. as he enters an exam room where the patient sits in a backless paper gown ... But in the military, the etiquette is to address all personnel by rank ... one's rank is the most important information: how one serves is important, but is of secondary importance.

          -- Robert Hickey

How to List a Military Physician On a Program?
        I
recently attended a funeral for a retired Rear Admiral who was also a Navy doctor. Was it proper to refer to him in on the cover of the program as:

Honoring
RADM (name), M.D.

      Was that correct?
              -- Vic M. in Pew #44
 
Dear Vic M.:
    
Correct by U.S. Department of Defense guidelines would have been:
         
   RADM (full name), Medical Corps, USN
     1) Abbreviating "Rear Admiral" to the military abbreviation RADM is standard at military events.
     2) In the official form of address, branch of service follows the name, in this case -- Medical Corps, USN.
     3) There's a rule no academic degree is used with a military rank -- so M.D.
-- or any other academic post-nominal abbreviation never follows a name preceded by a rank. ... so never use Captain (full name), MBA,  General (full name), JD or Major General (full name), PhD.
     4) Finally, in the armed services everyone is addressed and identified by rank. How they serve is important (in this case as a doctor) but by their rank is how their name is written.
           -- Robert Hickey



Addressing Invitations to Military Couples

How to Address an Officer and Her Civilian Husband?
      When I was working at Wounded Warrior Project’s TRACK program, a luncheon guest who is employed by The City of Jacksonville asked how to address business and social invitations to a admiral (Linda Weston) and her civilian husband (Thomas Weston).  Could you please advise?

           -- M. M. K.

Dear M.M.K.:
      Here 's the answer: all else being equal ... people in uniform have higher precedence than people not in uniform. So if they are both invited equally then on a social invitation use:
               Admiral Linda Weston
               and Mr. Thomas Weston

     Branch of service and "Retired" status are not noted on social forms.
     I mention if they are both invited equally .... if HE were the actual guest and his wife was being invited as a courtesy .... as his escort/date ... then he would be listed first ... since he's the intended recipient of the invitation.

      -- Robert Hickey

How to Socially Address An Invitation to
An Officer
(Who Is an M.D.) & His Spouse?
      My fiance and I are having a terrible time addressing some of our envelopes for our wedding. We have a number of high-ranking military officials that are retired and are medical doctors.
      For example we have a three star retired general (US Army) -- a Lieutenant General who is a physician.
      How do I write this: Lieutenant General James Doe, MD, Retired and Mrs. Janice Doe???
      Does Mrs. Janice Doe go on another line I would assume?
      We are including the women's names on our envelopes because I am a bit of a feminist and hate the idea of leaving off any reference to the woman's identity.
      Thanks for your help!
        -- Carrie Worsham

Dear Ms. Worsham,
    The most formal forms, e.g. how The White House would address an invitation to a Lieutenant General and his wife.  (BTW, they use my book.)
    1) No M.D.: Never use an academic degree with a military rank.
    2) The name of the person with the rank goes first.
    3) You can address your wedding invitations however you like, but as you infer it's traditional that when a couple uses the same last name ... and the woman uses "Mrs." ... woman's first name is not included.    
    Traditionally use of Mrs. (first name) + (last name) indicates a woman is divorced -- e.g., it's how she would be listed on a wedding invitation if they were no longer married, but she and her former husband were hosting the wedding.
    4) Branch of service and retired status are not used on social correspondence.
  
      So on the mailing envelope:
 
           Lieutenant General James Doe
     
     
      and Mrs. Doe
         
   
       (address)
  
      And on the inside envelope you use 'conversational forms":
      
      General Doe and Mrs. Doe
   
    Or if they are family or very close friends
       
     Jim and Janice
   
        Uncle Jim and Aunt Janice
            -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Invitation When Both Are in the
Armed Services and They Have the Same Rank?

      Your knowledge of protocol would be most desired regarding a wedding invitation.  I have son-in-law who is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and my daughter who is a doctor and also a Lieutenant in the Navy.  It is my understanding that Lieutenant would outrank doctor with regard to the military.  Would the social invitation be Lieutenants Walter Karl Thompson and Melissa Sue Thompson or Lts. Walter Karl Thompson and Melissa Sue Thompson?  I would appreciate your assistance in this situation.

           -- Janet

Dear Janet:
      Yes ... one's precedence in the armed services is only based on rank (and if ranks are the same, one with the earlier date-of-rank is higher) .... not one's mission in the service: doctor, pilot, mechanic, etc.
    So if "Walter" has an earlier date of rank, then the most formal ... and what I suggest is the following .... which would be to give each name full:
            Lieutenant Walter Carl Thomas
           
and Lieutenant Melissa Sue Thomas
    If you were going to abbreviate Lieutenant ... the USN service-abbreviation for lieutenant is:
            LT
    All caps, no period.
    On the inside envelope names are sometimes combined in cases like this:
            Pastors Thomas
            Ambassadors Thomas
           
Lieutenants Thomas
    But giving each person their entire name is the most formal:
            Lieutenant Thomas and Lieutenant Thomas
      -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Invitation When Both
Husband & Wife Have the Same Rank
?

     How do I address an invitation to two LTC (Army Lieutenant Colonels) that are married and both retired with the same last name?
                 -- T. Leveski @ USA.mil

Dear T. Leveski:
        "LTC" is the U.S. Army service-specific abbreviation for Lieutenant Colonels.  It is absolutely O.K. for anyone to use these.  But is is also O.K. to spell out "Lieutenant Colonel" if you prefer. But since you mentioned LTC I'll answer it using the service-specific abbreviations:
          1) If they are married to each other .... it would be:
                 LTC Burkett Collins
                         and LTC Sharon Collins

          2) One of them has an earlier date of rank ... and that LTC ... regardless of gender .... would most correctly be listed first.
       
. I include all the service-specific abbreviations, for all the services, in my book as well as all the joint forms of address for Military Officers and Enlisted Personnel on pages 147-149 of my book.
                   -- Robert Hickey

How to Address an Invitation When
Husband and Wife Have Different Ranks
?

     How does one address an invitation to an active duty general and his wife who is a retired colonel?  Thank you!
                 -- Bekah

Dear Bekah:
    General William Smith
        and Colonel Sarah Smith
            455 Westmoreland Avenue
                Falls Church, VA 22207

     1) Each gets their full rank and name of a line by itself
     2) A General gets his or her name first ... regardless of gender .... since a General outranks a Colonel.
         (There could be an exception, if she was the actual invitee and he was only being included only as her escort,... but General then Colonel is the usual precedence.)
     3) I assume this is a social event ... so there is no need to mention their "active duty"  or "retired" status ... or ... their branch of service .... since these are included on social correspondence.     
     4) It doesn't need to be indented like above .... it can be flush left, ... but it should be like the above -- line for line.
     People keep telling me that I should mention all this stuff is in my book ... and it is. I have a guide to joint forms of address for armed services personnel on pages 147-149.
                   -- Robert Hickey


Not Finding Your Question Answered?
Below are other topics covered in my blog and at right is a list of officials, Between the two I probably have what you are looking for.
     After hunting around a bit, if you don't see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day (unless I am traveling.)
      If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – with your name and any personal specifics changed.
      -- Robert Hickey

USE OF NAMES & HONORIFICS   
Mr., Miss, Jr., III, & Names        
Married Women       
Deceased Persons         
People with Two Titles
Post-Nominal Abbreviations and Initials         
 
Couples: Private Citizens / Joint Forms of Address 
Couples: U.S. Military / Joint Forms of Address     
Couples: U.S. Officials / Joint Forms of Address      

USE OF SPECIFIC OFFICIAL TITLES        
Former Officials            
Professionals and Academics        

United States Federal Officials, Currently In Office             
United States State Officials, Currently In Office              
United States Municipal Officials, Currently In Office             
       All About The Honorable with U.S. Officials         
       Former United States Officials of all types             
United States Armed Services, Active Duty             
       Addressing Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Retired Personnel      
       Use of Rank by Veterans      

Tribal Officials 
           
Clergy and Religious Officials           
Canadian Officials         
Australian Officials          
British Officials, Royalty, and Nobility        
Diplomats and International Representatives
           
Foreign National Officials and Nobility        

SPECIFIC SITUATIONS
Business Cards       
Couples        
Etiquette
            
Flags and Anthem Protocol             
Introductions
            
Invitations: Writing & Addressing
        
Invitations: Just Armed Service Personnel        
Name Badges & Tags            
Names on Programs, Signs, & Lists            
Naming a Building or Road            
Place Cards            

Plaques, Awards, Diplomas, Certificates    
Precedence: Ordering Officials 
         
Thank You Notes             


Site updated by Robert Hickey on August 8, 2014


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Robert Hickey is the author of Honor & Respect:
The Official Guide to Names, Titles, and Forms of Address
Published by The Protocol School of Washington®
Foreword by Pamela Eyring

Copyright © 2013 Robert Hickey.     All Rights Reserved.
Book Photo: Marc Goodman.