How to Address a General

——–Also on this page (below) Retired General & General with a Doctorate
——–Link to General and Spouse see Couple, Military
——–See also links to Lieutenant General, Major General and Brigadier General

How to Address a General, USA, USMC, USAF

—-Envelope, official: How to Address a General
—-—-General (Full Name), USA/USMC/USAF

—-—–—-GEN (Full Name), USA

————-Gen (Full Name), USMC

————-Gen (Full Name), USAF

—-Envelope, social:
—-—-General (Full Name)

—-Letter salutation:
—-—-Dear General (Surname):

Above I’ve shown the rank fully spelled out and as the service-specific abbreviations. Both spelling out and using service-specific abbreviations are correct. But getting into a full explanation of the service-specific abbreviations is a bit complicated for a short post like this. Use these spelled-out forms if you are unfamiliar with the service-specific abbreviations. If you are looking for more detailed information, look in my book: I get into it all there.  How to Address a General


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address a Retired General?

I would like to write a note of condolence to a retired General. What salutation do I use to start the letter with? How do I address the envelope? T
________________– Joan Gillman

Dear Ms. Gillman:

You need the social form for a note of condolence. For a social letter Department of Defense (DoD) guides suggest ‘full rank’ without the ‘branch of service’ or ‘Retired.’

—–Social envelope is the ‘full rank’:
—–—–General (Full Name)

—–Salutation is the just the ‘basic rank’:
—–—–Dear General (Surname):

– Robert Hickey


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address an Invitation to an Officer (Who Is an M.D.) & His Spouse?

My fiancé and I are addressing envelopes for our wedding invitations. One guest is a retired U.S. Army General who is a physician.

—-How do I write this? How to Address a General
—-General James Doe, MD, Retired and Mrs. Janice Doe

—-Does Mrs. Janice Doe go on another line?

I want to include all the women’s names on the mailing 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 formal social rules are:

—-#1) He is listed first as (Full Rank)+(Full Name). People with special forms of address get their name on a line by itself, not mixed with another person’s name.

—-#2) No mention of branch of service -or- retired status on social correspondence.

—-#3) No academic degree is ever used with a military rank. No ‘M.D.’

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

#4)  She is listed second. For couples who use the same last name, traditionally the woman uses ‘Mrs. (Shared Surname)’ – and the woman’s given name is not included. Many wives of highly ranked officials have no problem with this traditional form.

However, many women do want to be addressed as ‘Mrs. (Given Name)+(Surname)’. They don’t care about the old rule.

If I knew one guest preferred ‘Mrs. (Surname)’ and another preferred ‘Mrs. (Given Name)+(Surname)’. I’d address each as they prefer, not as I prefer.

—-Traditionally on the mailing envelope:
—-—-General James Doe
—-—-and Mrs. Doe
—-—-(Address)   How to Address a General

—-But if you know it is her preference:
—-—-General James Doe
—-—-and Mrs. Janice Doe

—-And on the inside envelope you use ‘conversational forms’:
—-—-General Doe and Mrs. Doe

—-Or if they are family or very close friends you could use on the inside envelope:
—-—-Jim and Janice
—-—-Uncle Jim and Aunt Janice

– Robert Hickey      How to Address a General


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.
___What I don’t cover on this site are many things I do cover in my book: all the rules of forms of address, about names, international titles, precedence, complimentary closes, details on invitations, place cards, all sorts of introductions, etc. I hope you’ll get a copy of the book if you’d like the further detail.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#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)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or 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, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”