How to Address Military Couples
Member(s) of the Armed Services
Joint Forms of Address

How to Address Active Duty Military and Spouse?

See notes 1-2-3-4 below for additional details. The formal formulas are:

—-(Full Rank) (Full Name)
—-and Mrs. (Surname Name Only)
—-(Address)

—-Which looks like:
————–—-Second Lieutenant Philip Louer
————–—-and Mrs. Louer
————–—-(Address)

—-(Full Rank) (Full Name)
—-and Mr./Ms./Dr. (Full Name)
—-(Address)

———-Which looks like:
————–—-Second Lieutenant Philip Louer     See #4 below
————–—-and Ms. Beth Wetmore
————–—-(Address)

————–—-Second Lieutenant Philip Louer
————–—-and Dr. Nancy Louer
————–—-(Address)

————–—-Second Lieutenant Jennifer Gosnell
————–—-and Mr. Fred Gosnell
————–—-(Address)

#1) The member of the armed services is listed first. People with ranks are listed before people without ranks. Use of and between their names (before the spouse’s name) implies they are married.

#2) On social correspondence branch of service — USA, USMC, USN, USAF and USCG — is not included. On an official letter to the service member you would include branch of service.  If the officer is retired, retired status is not used on social correspondence either.

#3) Formally – don’t break up a (rank)+(name). People with ranks get their name on a line by itself.  Put the spouse’s name on the next line.  Second Lieutenant and Mrs. (Full Name)  is frowned on in the armed services. I’ve seen it on envelopes addressed by civilians, but it is not the best form.

#4) if you are interested in more on the use of Mrs. and Ms. for wives –  see the post Mrs. vs. Ms.

— Robert Hickey    How to Address Military Couple

—-See These Related Posts:
—-—-Couples: Private Citizens
—-—-Couples: Military
—-—-Couples: U.S. Officials
—-—-Couples: Same Sex

How to Address a Retired Military & Spouse?

How do I address an envelope to a retired military man and his wife?
—————————-– Living near the Base  How to Address Military Couple

Dear Living near the Base:
First off, there are two ways to address armed services personnel in writing:
—-#1) the official way
—-#2) the social way

—-Official envelope:
—-—-(Full Rank) (Full Name), (Initials for the Branch of Service), Retired
—-—-—-and Mrs. (Surname)
—-————(Address)

—–—–—-Which looks like:
—–—–—–—–Captain Robert W. Thompson, USN, Retired
————————-and Mrs. (Surname)
—–—–—–—–—–—–(Address)

This official form would be used for an event when he’s being invited as a retired officer, maybe to attend in uniform?  Participate as a representative of the military in some capacity? Anyway, if your event is social & the officer is being invited as a person and not as an official … keep reading.

—-Social envelope:
—-—-(Ful Rank) (Full Name)
——–—-and Mrs. (Surname Only)
—————-(Address)

——–—-Which looks like:
——–—-—-Captain Robert W. Thompson
—————-—-and Mrs. Thompson
——–—-————(Address)

#1) Spelling out the rank is always the most formal. In the armed services, there are service-specific abbreviations for the ranks. If you know them, use them. If you don’t know them just spell out the ranks.

#2) “Branch of Service” and ‘Retired” are not used on social correspondence.

#3) The most formal way to write an official person’s name is to not break up the rank and the name … hence his name is on one line and Mrs. Thompson is on the next line — not mixed up his name and rank.  The form “Captain and Mrs. Robert W. Thompson” is informal. It’s not terrible, but it is not what the military services suggest in their correspondence style guides..

— Robert Hickey How to Address Military Couple

Forms of Address: How a conversation begins can have a huge impact on how the conversation - even the entire relationship - develops.

Military Personnel With the Same Rank?

How do you address a married couple in the Army with the same rank. Is it?
——–Captains John and Mary Smith, USA
—-—-—-or
—-—-Captain John Smith, USA and Captain Mary Smith, USA
Also what if they are married but have different last names?
————————-– Candy J.

Dear PSC:
—-#1) Outside envelope: When someone has a special title/rank .. formally you write out their full name and don’t mix it with the other name: So each gets their (Rank) + (Full Name).

—-#2) Branch of Service: Branch of service is not included on social correspondence.

—-#3) Name order: Whose name goes first? His? Her name?  This is an issue of protocol, and it’s neither alphabetical nor ladies first. Military officers of the same rank are always ordered by seniority. One member of the couple has an earlier date of rank … which gives that person higher precedence / greater seniority.  I guarantee you they have discussed this and the couple knows which of them has higher precedence/seniority by date of rank!  Contact them and find out so you can do it correctly.

—-Each is getting listed fully … thus it does not matter if they have the same or different last names.

—-—-Captain John Smith
—-—-and Captain Mary Smith (if he has seniority)
—-—-(Address)

—-—-Captain Mary Smith
—-—-and Captain John Smith(if she has seniority)
—-—-(Address)

—-#4) Inside envelope:
—-—-Captains Smith(same surname)
—-—-Captain Smith and Captain Wilson(different surnames, senior person first)
—-—-Mary and William(informal/casual)

— Robert Hickey How to Address Military Couple

–_-Related Forms of Address:
—-—-Boy, Girl, Child
—-—-Couples: Military
——–Couples: Private Citizens

——–Couples: U.S. Officials
——–
Couple, Same Sex
——–Family
—-—-First Names
—-—-Man or Woman, Social
——–Woman, Married
—-
—-Miss
—-—-Mrs. vs. Ms.
—-—-Mx.
——–
Retiree
—-—-Spouse of an Official
—-—-Widow

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, 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 or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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