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REVIEW: VET Tv’s Military Slang Dictionary Brings Back Fond Memories

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When I married my wife in 1998, she was from a well-to-do family and was extremely well-spoken. Heck, we’re the same age and she had graduated college before I had even graduated high school.

22 years later, having accompanied me as a military spouse through the Army infantry, and later through the Air Force as a maintainer, she now speaks like a drunk master chief on liberty in Bangkok who just got kicked in the stomach by a ferel mud wrestler.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

There is a certain charm about military slang. Sometimes efficient and sometimes offensive, every branch has invented its own language to describe people, places and things with a vibrant flourish that rivals the jibber-jabber corporate jargon that has infested the business world.

If only someone would compile this so-called “military slang” into one compendium that I could read once and then donate to Goodwill…

Enter VET Tv, an irreverent, veteran-centric streaming network that scratches my occasional itch for gallows humor and dark comedy.

Like my addiction to Hot Cocoa Hershey’s Kisses, it’s a guilty pleasure, really.

It’s also precisely the type of cynical, dark humor that offends exactly 100% of the viewers who have never served a day in the military. But that is also the reason why I love it. VET Tv provides the type of cultural capital that I crave; especially after watching every other streaming platform get military uniforms so wrong.

It is only natural, then, that a successful streaming service that bills itself as the “Netflix for Veterans” performs an ‘about-face’ and jumps into the lucrative and booming print media market.

Digital to print! It’s brilliant! What better way to confound your competitors than to dive head-first into a dying industry?

Still, having been out of the military for a day or two, flipping through VET Tv’s Military Slang Dictionary took me on a trip down memory lane.

I remember fondly calling a fellow Specialist a “Five-Jump Chump” (one who had just graduated Airborne school, which requires precisely five jumps to graduate) to which he replied, “Well Wes, that’s five more than you have.”

After grabbing my ‘woobie’ (poncho liner) and reflecting on my sad life as a ‘leg’ (non-airborne) infantryman, I resolved to get revenge by breaking open a bunch of ‘IR’ (infrared) chemlights and soaking the chump’s uniforms so he would glow like Great Caesar’s Ghost on night vision goggles the next time we went to the field.

Unfortunately, a Blackhawk helicopter landed on him during our next field rotation by apparently mistaking him for a glowing landing beacon.

But that’s nothing compared to the ‘Zoomies’ (flight crew) in the room next door who shared a bathroom with us in the Air Force while deployed to Ecuador.

They upset my roommate, a fellow maintainer, so my roommate sabotaged their shampoo bottle by filling it with ranch dressing. Enjoy your shower boys.

If Vet Tv’s Military Slang Dictionary is enough to get me reminiscing about murderous and disgusting practical jokes for an hour, then it is well worth the price of admission.

As for the content of the book, this disclaimer from the authors speak volumes:

“Disclaimer: While these are the words that veterans and active-duty military may know and understand, VET Tv does not endorse the actual use of them – especially outside of the context of war. It’s important to understand that when your job is to take another person’s life — your mentality and your language change in order to dehumanize the enemy and make light of the unfathomable experiences of war. Bottom line, this is a documentation of reality, not a recommendation to use any of these terms at the dinner table.”

VET Tv’s Military Slang Dictionary is available for preorder now. Orders will ship on or after May 26, 2021. Buy it. And don’t forget to thank me for my service.

Wes O’Donnell is an Army and Air Force veteran and writer covering military and tech topics. As a sought-after professional speaker, Wes has presented at U.S. Air Force Academy, Fortune 500 companies, and TEDx, covering trending topics from data visualization to leadership and veterans’ advocacy. As a filmmaker, he directed the award-winning short film, “Memorial Day.”

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