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Content style guide

Word list

For most terms on VA.gov, we use the standard American English spelling in Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The words on this list are exceptions or need clarification.

  • We might use different capitalization or hyphenation.
  • We may call for using a more plain language version of a word or to define it in body copy.
  • We may call for using a preferred version on VA.gov when different VA agencies use variations for the same word.

For terms that are not on this list, refer to Merriam-Webster.


Jump to: A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


A

active duty: Hyphenate when it modifies a noun; don’t capitalize.

  • Like this: active-duty service member

accredited representative: Lowercase, and define on first appropriate instance as “a trained professional trusted to help with VA-related claims.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

  • Like this: Get help from an accredited representative, a trained professional trusted to help with VA-related claims.

advanced: Capitalize only when used as part of the branded term “My HealtheVet Advanced.” Otherwise lowercase.

Agent Orange: Define term on first mention in body copy as “a toxic chemical used to clear trees and plants during the war.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

annual: Unless part of a benefit or program name, avoid the use of terms like “annual,” “biannual,” and “biennial.” Opt for plain language alternatives instead.

  • Instead of annual: “each year” or “once each year”
  • Instead of bi-annual: “2 times each year” or “twice each year”
  • Instead of biennial: “every other year”

appeal option: On the Board Appeal form, a Veteran selects a Direct Review, Evidence Submission, or Hearing “appeal option” from the list of Board Appeal options. Avoid use of the word “lane.”

apply: Use “file a claim for disability compensation” instead of “apply for benefits.” “Apply” is okay for other benefits, such as “Apply for VA health care.”

Armed Forces: Capitalize.

asbestos: Define on first mention in body copy as “toxic fibers, once used in many buildings and products.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

attending physician: In the context of life insurance, define on first mention in body copy as “the doctor in charge of your care” (when talking to Veterans) or “the doctor in charge of a Veteran’s care” (when talking to a family caregiver). Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

B

basic: Capitalize only when used as part of the branded term “DS Logon Basic.” Otherwise lowercase.

became ill: Use “got sick.”

became worse: Use “got worse.”

beneficiary: In the context of life insurance, define on first mention in body copy as “the person you choose to receive your insurance proceeds.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

Benefits Delivery at Discharge (BDD) program. Note that “Benefits” is plural. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

blind or low-vision (not “blind or sight-impaired”)

Blue Water: Capitalize.

Board decision: A Veteran receives a “Board decision,” not a “Board Appeal decision.”

Board of Veterans Appeals: Capitalize. Can use “Board” on subsequent mentions in body copy.

Brown Water: Capitalize.

C

can vs. may: Use “can” when meaning the ability or power to do something; use “may” when meaning the permission to do it.

caregiver: Use “caregiver,” not “caretaker.” Also note that family members do not necessarily see themselves as “caregivers” so, while “family caregiver” can be used as a shorthand term, wherever possible use a more descriptive phrase such as “a family member caring for a Veteran with disabilities.”

certifying official: Use this term to refer to the person at one’s school who needs to approve/submit enrollment information for VA education benefits.

  • Like this: Your school’s certifying official will submit your enrollment information with a VA Enrollment Certification (VA Form 22-1999).

Character of Discharge review process: Initial cap “Character of Discharge” review process.

character of service (more casually referred to as “type of service”): This is a “block” or box on the VA Form DD214 that states one of the following: honorable, general/under honorable conditions, under other than honorable conditions, uncharacterized, or bad conduct.

chronic: Define on first mention in body copy as “long-lasting” or when needed, “illness that lasts for a long time.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

claim exam: This is a term VA is working to rebrand. For now, on first mention on a page, use “VA claim exam (also known as a compensation and pension, or C&P, exam).” After first mention, use “VA claim exam” or “claim exam.”

click: Avoid using, especially “click here.” Link the relevant words instead. Exception: In UI (user interface) copy, it’s okay to use “click [Button/Interface Name].” See also Links

compensation: “Disability compensation” is the preferred term, but “VA disability pay” has greater SEO value and is more plain language. Use “VA disability compensation (pay)” on first mention, and try to work in both terms. Also include explanation of “monthly payments.”

competent: Define on first mention in body copy as “of legal age and sound mind.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers: The proper program name is Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers. Don’t make the name into an acronym.

conditions: Define on first mention as “illnesses or injuries (also known as conditions).” For all other mentions, “condition” or “conditions” is OK.

contamination: Define on first mention in body copy as “water that was found to have toxic chemicals in it.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

  • Exception: On the Camp Lejeune page, don’t define this term.

continuous: When used in the context of eligibility, define this term as “all at once, without a break in service.”

  • Like this: Served for at least 30 continuous days (all at once, without a break in service).”

convalescence: Use “rehab care” instead. If used in the context of a specific benefit, can include as a parenthetical: “(also known as convalescence).”

court-appointed guardian: Define on first mention in body content as “a person the court decides is in charge of caring for another person who can’t take care of him or herself.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

court-martial: Lowercase, as in “general court-martial,” “special court-martial,” and “summary court-martial.”

C&P exam: see “claim exam” entry.

D

death benefits: Define on first mention in body copy as “money from a Veteran’s life insurance policy when that Veteran dies.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

deceased: This is the preferred term on VA.gov over “decedent,” which is chiefly a legal term.

decision review form: A Veteran fills out a decision review “form,” not an “application.”

demolish: Use “knock down” or, when used as a noun in the context of a job of building demolition, “demolition (knocking down old buildings).”

dentistry: Use “dental care” instead.

Department of Veterans Affairs: Note there’s no apostrophe on Veterans. On VA.gov, because we show the complete U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) logo in the global header, we use VA or use the first-person “we.” See We, us, you for examples.

  • Do not use “DVA,” “Dept of VA,” or other non-standard shortened versions. See also, the entries “VA” and “VA.gov.”
  • Exception: When the full, official federal agency name needs to be used, spell out in its entirety on the first instance. After the first instance, may shorten to Veterans Affairs or VA.

Dependents’ Educational Assistance Program: Refer to this as “Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program.” Include “also called Chapter 35” on first mention. Can be shortened to “DEA program” after first mention.

deprivation: Define one first mention in body copy as “a lack of things such as sleep that people need for their physical and mental well being.” Include the definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

decision notice: Do not refer to as “decision letter.” The Veteran undergoes a VA claim exam (referred to as a C&P exam by Veterans), and then after VA reviews the evidence, we send a “decision notice” that includes the disability rating.

disability rating: Define as “a rating that measures how severe a disability is” or similar language.

  • Like this: We may use a rating that measures how bad your disability is. This rating helps us decide your level of benefits.
  • Like this: We assign you a disability rating based on the severity of your disability.

disease: Use “illness” unless it’s part of a proper name of a specific disease.

dividend: Define on first mention in body copy as “cash payments made to policyholders when the company makes a profit” OR as “when life insurance companies make money, they sometimes make cash payments (called dividends) to people who have policies with them.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy: Use initial caps and no quotation marks. Don’t capitalize “policy.”

E

education: In general, on VA.gov we use “education” as a noun, and sometimes as part of a compound noun or attributive noun to modify another noun.

  • Like this: education benefits OR education and training opportunities
  • Not this: educational benefits OR educational and training opportunities

educational: Because businesses within VA apply different usage styles for “education” and “educational,” we’ve listed instances here, where we use “educational” in specific phrases rather than “education” as above. (See education entry.)

  • Like this: educational assistance, educational institution, educational plan, educational program

educational and career counseling: We use this style of phrasing to be consistent with VR&E Chapter 36: Educational and Vocational Counseling. Note: this style differs from the style within eBenefits VR&E > Education and Career Counseling pages.

educational and vocational counseling: We use this style of phrasing to be consistent with VR&E Chapter 36: Educational and Vocational Counseling.

educational assistance: We use this style of phrasing to be consistent with Chapter 35, DEA, REAP, and VEAP.

educational counseling: We use this style of phrasing to be consistent with VR&E Chapter 36: Educational and Vocational Counseling. Note: this usage differs from the style within eBenefits VR&E > Education and Career Counseling pages.

email: No hyphen (not “e-mail”).

environmental hazards: Define on first mention in body copy as “harmful toxins in the air, water, or land such as those that get released from burn pits.” Include definition as another sentence, a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

employment handicap: Add a definition or note to help explain this term.

  • Like this: Having an employment handicap means your service-connected disability limits your ability to prepare for, obtain, and maintain suitable employment (a job that doesn’t make your disability worse, is stable, and matches your abilities, aptitudes, and interests).

equivalent: Use an alternative word or phrase—such as “equal to,” “same as,” “as in,” etc.—depending on context.

  • Like this: Apply for VA health care online (equal to VA Form 10-10EZ).
  • Not this: Apply for VA health care online (equivalent to VA Form 10-10EZ).

  • Like this: We’ll review your discharge papers (DD214 or other separation documents).
  • Not this: We’ll review your discharge papers (DD214 or equivalent).

era: Uppercase for Vietnam Era (this is a VA term). If you need to talk about the Vietnam War, which has different dates associated with it than Vietnam Era, style it with “era,” lowercase: Vietnam War era.

evidence: Define as “supporting documents” and add, “like a doctor’s report or medical test results,” as needed.

exception: Used to call special attention to something. It should be bolded and never in all caps.

excluding: Use “not counting” or “not including.”

expedite/expedited: Use plain language words like “faster,” “quicker,” or “speed up,” depending on context.

  • Like this: Use the Fully Developed Claims program to get a faster decision on your disability benefits claim. This may help speed up the claim decision process, so you can get your benefits sooner.

  • Not this: Use the Fully Developed Claims program to get an expedited decision on your disability benefits claim. This may help expedite the claim decision process.

explosive ordinance: Define on first mention in body copy as “high-explosive devices, and chemical and nuclear weapons.” Include definition as another sentence, a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

exposure: Define in the context of body copy as “had contact with” or “come into contact with.”

F

family member: Use this term instead of “beneficiary” whenever possible.

Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (FSGLI): This is the program name. Note that the word Servicemembers’ is plural with a plural possessive apostrophe. Because this is a proper noun, we follow the “Servicemember” spelling here, instead of our house style, “service member.”

federal: Do not capitalize “federal” for generic usage such as “federal agency.”

Fibromyalgia: Define on first mention in body copy as “a sickness that causes tiredness, pain in different areas of your body, and sleep, memory, and mood problems.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

file a claim for disability compensation: Use “file a claim” rather than “apply for benefits” when referring to disability.

final status: Use “in final status” rather than “in a final status.”

financial hardship: Define on first mention in body copy as “having trouble paying for basic needs, like food and housing.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

G

GI: No periods (not G.I.).

GI Bill®: Include the trademark symbol in the first prominent mention on the website (currently on Education and Training hub page).

GI Bill Comparison Tool: Capitalize “Comparison Tool.” Treat as a proper noun when mentioning it by the complete name. Don’t capitalize tool when simply referencing it, not by name.

  • Like this: The GI Bill Comparison Tool can help you compare benefits by school. Fill out the tool to get started.

gravesite: Style this as one word. (Merriam-Webster does not address whether this should be one or two words, but the Gravesite Locator and Arlington National Cemetery both style it as one word. In addition, the following related words do appear in Merriam-Webster as one: graveside and gravestone.)

guarantee: Can be used as either a noun or a verb. For our purposes, especially within the Home Loans section, when used in a legal context, we use “guarantee” as a verb and “guaranty” as a noun. Example: We guarantee a portion of the loan.

guaranty: Should be used only as a noun. Example: Because of our partial guaranty, lenders may offer better loan terms for Veterans.

Guard member: Use the gender neutral term, “Guard member,” instead of Guardsman/Guardsmen on VA.gov. Capitalize “Guard.”

Gulf War Illness: Capitalize the I in Illness. Per NIH, this is also sometimes called “chronic multisymptom illness.” Note: “Gulf War Syndrome” is the former name, and is no longer used. When needed for clarity or SEO, include the former term on first mention.

  • Like this: Gulf War Illness (known in the past as Gulf War Syndrome)

H

hazardous: Define in the context of body copy as “harmful” or “toxic.”

hazardous exposure: Define in the context of body copy as “contact with harmful chemicals or other hazardous materials.”

health care: Two words, never hyphenated as a compound adjective (for example, “health care system”). Do not capitalize unless it is part of the official name of a VA medical center.

  • Exception: Defer to the VA medical center’s official name, which may have health care as one word versus two words.

Higher-Level Review decision: Initial cap “Higher-Level Review.” Don’t capitalize “decision.” Note: A Veteran “requests” a Higher-Level Review, a Board Appeal, or a decision review. We don’t say “apply” or “file” for a Higher-Level Review, a Board Appeal or a decision review.

hospitalization: Use “hospital care.”

home loan: Don’t use a hyphen even when used as an adjective.

  • Like this: home loan benefits

  • Not this: home-loan benefits

Homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

House confinement: Phrase as “being unable to leave your house (known as house confinement).”

I

illness: Use “illness” to refer to diseases.

increased claim: Define on first mention in body copy as “a claim for more compensation for a disability that we’ve already determined to be service connected and that has gotten worse.”

independent living services: Don’t use hyphen for the compound adjective.

Individual Unemployability: Include a description that makes clear that this benefit is for Veterans who can’t work due to a service-connected disability. This is a VA term and should be capitalized.

individually unemployable: Lowercase. Define as “unable to work due to a service-connected disability.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

input: Use “record” instead.

internet: Lowercase, per AP Style.

J

Job Bank: Neither word is plural. See Veterans Job Bank entry.

K

L

lewisite: Define on first mention in body copy as “a natural compound that contains the poison arsenic.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

life insurance: Do not hyphenate in the form of a compound adjective: “life insurance coverage.”

loan guaranty agent: Lowercase. Capitalize only when used as someone’s title. The preferred style is to recast the sentence so that it adheres to AP Style on professional titles.

  • Like this: Charles Lee, our loan guaranty agent, may ask you to provide more financial information.
  • Not this: Loan Technician Charles Lee may ask you to provide more financial information.

loan technician: Lowercase. Capitalize only when used as someone’s title. The preferred style is to recast the sentence so that it adheres to AP Style on professional titles.

  • Like this: Your loan technician, Jane Smith, may ask you to provide more information.
  • Not this: Loan Technician Jane Smith may ask you to provide more information.

log in/log out (verb), login ID (noun or adj.): Use sign in/sign out or username and password, as needed.

  • Like this: Sign in with your username and password.
  • Not this: Enter your login ID.

Loss of range of motion: Use “problems moving your body.”

M

manufacturing: Use “making.”

may: See entry for “can.”

Military Occupation Code (MOC). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Million Veteran Program (MVP). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

MISSION Act: Use the official short title, VA MISSION Act, instead of the abbreviated or full name. (The full name of the bill is the “John S. McCain III, Daniel K. Akaka, and Samuel R. Johnson VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act of 2018.”)

Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGB-AD). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGB-SR). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

My HealtheVet: Don’t italicize the “e” between “Health” and “Vet” in body copy, headlines, and user interface elements such as links, buttons, and navigation. The “e” is italicized only in the logo.

N

National Cemetery Administration (NCA). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

National Guard: Can also use “Guard.”

new claim: Define on first mention in body copy as “a claim for added benefits or other benefit requests related to an existing service-connected disability.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

non-traditional: Hyphenate when preceding and modifying a noun.

nonpay: Do not hyphenate.

Note: Used to call special attention to something. It is bolded and never in all caps.

number: Spell out this word. Don’t abbreviate to “No.” or “#.”

O

original claim: Define on first mention in body copy as “your first claim for disability compensation.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

P

PO Box: Don’t use periods.

patient: Use “person living with,” as in “person living with diabetes,” instead of “diabetes patient.”

percent: Use the symbol % rather than spelling it out, for scannability.

period of honorable service (not honorable period of service)

permanent disability, permanent and total disability: Define a “permanent disability” as “a disability that’s not expected to improve” and define “permanent and total disability” as “a disability that we’ve rated as 100% disabling and that’s not expected to improve.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

Persian Gulf War era: Lowercase “era.”

post-9/11: Hyphenate. We use the slash rather than the hyphen for 9/11 (not 9-11). Example: Post-9/11 GI Bill. In cases when post-9/11 stands alone rather than as part of a program name, it should be lowercased.

postservice: No hyphen.

Premium: Initial cap when used in the context of account level (for example: DS Logon Premium account)

pre-discharge: Use a hyphen.

preseparation: No hyphen.

preservice: No hyphen.

prestabilization: No hyphen.

presume: Use “conclude,” as in “we will conclude your condition is linked to service.”

presumptive disability: Use “health problem” and reference when needed for clarity.

  • Like this: A health problem (called presumptive disability) that we’ve concluded is likely caused by….

prisoner of war (POW): Don’t capitalize per the DOD military dictionary.

  • Like this: You may be eligible for benefits as a former prisoner of war (POW).

Project 112/SHAD

process (a claim): Use “review.” Example: We’ll review your disability claim.

prove: Avoid the word “prove” when speaking about evidence that a Veteran needs to provide for a claim. Instead, use more empathetic language such as “show,” “provide,” or “to support your claim.”

  • Like this: You’ll need to provide evidence that shows your illness was likely caused by your service.
  • Not this: You’ll need to prove that your illness was likely caused by your service.

PTSD: posttraumatic stress disorder (no hyphen), per the National Center for PTSD. In body copy, we reference the full spelling with “(PTSD)” after it. On subsequent mentions in body copy, we use PTSD by itself.

  • First instance in body copy: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • After first instance in body copy: PTSD
  • Exception for page titles: If the spelled out term is too long in a page title (H1) or meta title tag, it’s okay to use PTSD by itself, and then use the full spelling with the acronym in the first instance of body copy.

Q

R

regional office: Use instead of “regional benefit office.” See VA regional office entry for details.

Reserve: Capitalize when used to refer to members of the military.

Reservist: Capitalize.

respiratory disease: Use “breathing problems” or “lung disease.”

resume: Don’t use accent marks when referring to the noun, as in a job resume.

retroactive: Provide contextual information to help define, as relevant in the specific situation. Example: Can I get retroactive TSGLI for a past injury? You may be able to get retroactive TSGLI that takes effect starting from the date of your injury.

review option: A Veteran selects from one of the available review options when they request a decision review. The 3 review options are Supplemental Claim, Board Appeal, and Higher-Level Review.

reviewer: Lowercase. Person who reviews Supplemental Claims. (As opposed to a senior reviewer, who reviews Higher-Level Reviews.)

S

secondary service-connected claim: Define on first mention in body copy as “a claim for a new disability that’s linked to a service-connected disability you already have.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

Selected Reserve: Generally used in the context of the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve.

senior reviewer: Lowercase. Person who reviews Higher-Level Reviews. (As opposed to a reviewer, who reviews Supplemental Claims.)

service connected: Hyphenate when modifying a noun. Otherwise, do not hyphenate.

  • Like this (modifying a noun): A Veteran with a service-connected disability may be eligible for additional health care benefits.

  • Like this (not modifying a noun): The disability is considered service connected.

service-connected condition: Define in body copy as an “illness or injury caused—or made worse by—active-duty service.” Can define in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas. For example: “A service-connected condition is an illness or injury caused—or made worse by—your active-duty service.”

service-connected disability: In most cases, add the definition separately as another sentence or a note below a bulleted list. For example: “Having a service-connected disability means we’ve concluded that you’re disabled because of an illness or injury caused—or made worse—by your active-duty service.”

Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

service member: Two words, lowercase. This follows the DOD style guide as well as OPIA guidance.

  • Exception: When it appears as part of a branded product or program name, like Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI).

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI). Note that the word Servicemembers’ is plural with a plural possessive apostrophe. Because this is a proper noun, we follow the “Servicemember” spelling here, instead of our house style, “service member.”

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Disability Extension (SGLI-DE). Note that the word Servicemembers’ is plural with a plural possessive apostrophe. Because this is a proper noun, we follow the “Servicemember” spelling here, instead of our house style, “service member.”

Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection (TSGLI). Note that the word Servicemembers’ is plural with a plural possessive apostrophe. Because this is a proper noun, we follow the “Servicemember” spelling here, instead of our house style, “service member.”

sign in, sign out: Don’t use log in/log out, login ID, or sign on.

  • Like this: Sign in to make an appointment.

  • Not this: Sign on to make an appointment.

Social Security number: Don’t capitalize “number.”

special claim: Define on first mention in body copy as “a claim for special needs linked to your service-connected disability.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

suicide: When posing as a question for the Veteran, phrase as “Are you thinking of hurting yourself or others?” Don’t use “Are you having thoughts of suicide?”

substantially gainful employment: Provide a definition or note when using this term.

  • Like this: You can’t hold down a steady job that supports you financially (known as substantially gainful employment) because of your service-connected disability. Odd jobs (marginal employment), don’t count.

Supplemental Claim: Define on first mention in body copy as “providing new evidence to support a disability claim that was denied.” Note: A Veteran “files” a Supplemental Claim, not “requests” a Supplemental Claim.

Supplemental Claim decision: Initial cap “Supplemental Claim.” Don’t capitalize “decision.”

Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) program: Include “also called Chapter 35” on first mention. Can be shortened to “DEA program” after first mention.

T

terminal illness: When this term is used as part of eligibility information for a benefit such as hospice care or life insurance, include a plain language definition of the term. Example: “terminal illness (a condition that can’t be treated).”

total disability, permanent and total disability: Define a “total disability” as “a disability that we’ve rated as 100% disabling,” and define “permanent and total disability” as “a disability that we’ve rated as 100% disabling and that’s not expected to improve.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

trauma: Define on first mention in body copy as “an injury or deeply disturbing experience.” Include definition in another sentence, as a parenthetical, or set off with commas.

U

U.S.: Use periods.

V

VA: Don’t use “the” before VA when it’s used as a noun. However, when VA serves as an adjective, use the article where appropriate. See the entry “Department of Veterans Affairs” for full guidance.

  • As a noun: VA announced today that…
  • As a noun phrase (“VA facilities”): Some VA facilities in Texas are affected by Hurricane Florida.
  • As an adjective (modifying “task force”): The VA task force announced today…

VA decision: This is a general, umbrella term for a claim decision made by VA.

VA.gov: Treat it as a brand name and always capitalize “VA.” Don’t use “www.va.gov” as the name.

  • Like this: Preview the new VA.gov.
  • Not this: Va.gov has benefits information for Veterans.

VA health care facility: Don’t hyphenate “health care” in this phrase.

VA medical center: Don’t shorten to VA center. “Medical Center” should be capitalized only when it’s part of an official medical center name (for example, Washington VA Medical Center).

VA national cemetery: “national cemetery” is lowercase except when part of the full name of a cemetery.

VA regional office: Use “VA regional office” and not “VA regional benefits office.” “Regional Office” should only be capitalized if a specific name is included in the title.

  • Like this: The Buffalo Regional Office (RO) is one of four regional processing centers nationwide that process education claims.

vesicant agents: Use “vesicant (blistering) agents.”

Vet Center: Capitalize “Center.”

Veteran: On VA.gov, capitalize even when used as a common noun. When possible, you can avoid this awkward style by recasting sentences into a more conversational tone and speaking directly with Veterans, rather than referring to them in the third person.

  • Okay: Learn about services and benefits that we offer to Veterans and their families.
  • Better: Learn about VA services and benefits that you and your family may be eligible for.

Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC). Note that “Veteran” is singular. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans Affairs: Note there’s no apostrophe on Veterans. See the entries “VA” and “Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA). Note that “Benefits” is plural. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans cemetery: “Veterans” does not take an apostrophe, and “cemetery” is lowercase except when part of the official name of a cemetery.

  • Like this: Family members may be eligible if they’re buried in a Veterans cemetery.
  • Or when used in a proper noun: The Hawaii State Veterans Cemetery is located in Kaneohe, HI.

Veterans Crisis Line (VCL): Note that “Veterans” does not take an apostrophe. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans’ Educational Assistance Program (VEAP). Note that Veterans’ is plural with a plural possessive apostrophe. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans Employment Center™ (VEC). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans’ Group Life Insurance (VGLI). Note that Veterans’ is plural with a plural possessive apostrophe. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans Health Administration (VHA). See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans Job Bank: “Veterans” is plural.

Veterans Law Judge: Capitalize. Can use lowercase “judge” on subsequent mentions in body copy instead of the full formal term.

Veterans’ Mortgage Life Insurance (VMLI). Note Veterans’ is plural with a plural possessive apostrophe. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans Service Organization (VSO). “Veterans” is plural and does not take an apostrophe. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Veterans Service Representative (VSR). “Veterans” is plural and does not take an apostrophe. See Abbreviations and acronyms for guidance on using acronyms on VA.gov.

Vietnam Era: Capitalize “Era,” but not in “Vietnam War era” (lowercase “era”). Mostly we use the first term: Vietnam Era. See entry on “era” for additional explanation.

W

website: One word, not capitalized.

work study: Two words, not hyphenated as a noun; hyphenate when used as an adjective preceding a noun.

  • Like this (modifying a noun): Find out if you can earn money while you go to school through our work-study program.
  • Like this (as a noun): How much does work study pay?

X

Y

Yellow Ribbon Scholarship (Yellow Ribbon Program): Capitalize “Program.”

Z

zip code: Lowercase, two words, per Merriam-Webster.