How to Address a Military Doctor

Physician or Armed Services Personnel with a Doctorate -or- Other Academic Post-Nominal Abbreviation

See Notes #1 and #2 below

—-Envelope or address block on letter or email:
—-—-(Rank) (Full Name), (Abbreviation for Branch of Service) Note #2
—-—-(Name of practice, hospital, or clinic)

——–With the rank spelled out:
——–—-Captain Robert W. Thompson, USNMC  Note #2
—-——–Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
——–—-8901 Wisconsin Avenue
—-——–Bethesda, MD, 20814

——–With the service-specific abbreviation for rank:
——–—-CAPT Robert W. Thompson, USNMC  Note #2
——–—-Walter Reed National Military Medical Center
——–—-8901 Wisconsin Avenue
——–—-Bethesda, MD, 20814

—-Letter salutation:
——–Dear (Rank)(Surname):

NOTE: All members of the Armed Services are addressed by rank:


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

—-#1) Neither Dr. nor post-nominal abbreviations – Ph.D., M.D., D.D.S., D.O., D.P.M., O.D., M.B.A., M.S., M.A., etc. – are used with a military rank.  Academic degrees are noted in their biography/resume/CV, not as part of their name.

—-#2) Medical Armed Services personnel’s branch of service abbreviation will reflect their medical corps.

—-#3) See service-specific abbreviation for ranks.


Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

How to Address A Military Doctor & His Spouse?

My fiancé and I are working on the envelopes for our wedding invitations. We have a number of high-ranking military officers who are retired medical doctors.  For example, we have a three-star retired Army general – who is a physician.  How do I write this: Lieutenant General James Doe, M.D., Retired and Mrs. Janice Doe???  His wife’s name, Mrs. Janice Doe, goes on another line I assume?

————– Carrie Worsham

Dear Ms. Worsham,

The rules for the formal form for an invitation to a Lieutenant General and his wife

—-#1) No M.D.: Never use an academic degree with a military rank.

—-#2) The name of the person with the rank goes first. The spouse goes second.

—-#3) It’s traditional when a couple uses the same last name … and the woman uses ‘Mrs.’ … woman’s first name is not included. (I have a page just on Mrs. vs. Ms. in the list at right if you want more that topic.)

In tradition etiquette references, Mrs. (her first name) + (last name) is the form for a divorced woman. Mrs. (her first name) + (last name) is how she would be listed on a wedding invitation if she and her former husband were co-hosting the wedding. But if you know your guest likes Mrs. (her first name) + (last name), use it. I observe wives of high-ranking officials are often OK with ‘Mrs. (Surname)’. But if you are concerned, call. It is better to call and ask than to get it wrong. It is never inappropriate to ask a person how they like to be addressed

—-4) Branch of service and retired status are not used on social correspondence.

—-Traditional mailing envelope, shared surname:
—-—-Lieutenant General James Doe
—-—-and Mrs. Doe

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

—-Alternative mailing envelope:
—-—-Lieutenant General James Doe
—-—-and Ms. Leslie Doe

—-Matching inside envelope:
—-—-General Doe and Ms. Doe

—-Or if they are family or very close friends, use what you call them in conversation on the inside envelope:
—-—-Jim and Janice
—-—-Uncle Jim and Aunt Janice

– Robert Hickey

Related Posts:
Couples: Private Citizens
Couples: Christian Clergy
Couples: Rabbis
Couples: Military
Couples: U.S. Officials
Couples: Same Sex

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

How to Address a Military Officer of a Doctor Spouse?

How do I address an invitation’s envelope to a Navy captain and a dentist who are married?
—-—-Captain Joshua & Dr. Brooke Jones?

—-—-—-—-– D. Bainbridge

Dear Mr. D. Bainbridge:

—-#1) People with titles and ranks get their names as a unit … not combined with another person’s name. List one name, then list the other name. No combination.

—-#2) List the USN Captain first. Uniformed armed services personnel have precedence over civilians.

—-#3) Since this is social correspondence, don’t include that he’s a member of the United States Navy.  No USN after his name.

—-The form would be:
—-—-Captain John Jones
—-—-and Dr. Ashley Jones

– Robert Hickey


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”