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Military Retirement Gifts

Veteran Ronnie Baker proudly displays a cap marking his military service. Image credit: Shannon Mullane/Durango Herald.

Military retirement gifts are thoughtful mementos for someone whose career in the military has come to an end. These gifts can represent their time in their branch of service, help them with the transition into civilian life, or simply be something you think they’d enjoy to mark this special occasion. 

We buy gifts for things like weddings, birthdays, and graduations, but a military retirement is just as momentous for a person who’s dedicated 20-plus years to service. The military is more than just a job; it’s a culture and a way of life. And leaving it can be bittersweet for Veterans. 

So, to really make a new Veteran feel appreciated, consider getting them one of these military retirement gifts as they move on to the next stage of their life.


Military Retirement Gifts

Military Shadow Box

A military shadow box is traditionally given to someone at their military retirement, so now’s the perfect time!

The difference between a shadow box and an ordinary frame is depth; a shadow box is deep enough to store more than just flat items like pictures. So a Veteran’s medals, awards, uniform pieces, promotional awards, and other precious keepsakes can be proudly displayed in a military shadow box for years to come. 

In our military gift guide, we recommend a military shadow box from Medals of America. They make them custom for each service member, and the quality is unparalleled for prices starting at just $50. 

Tool Set 

If you know a Veteran who likes working with their hands, a tool set could be the perfect gift. But chances are, they might already have some tools of their own, so tread carefully before buying a full set. 

If you can, pay a visit to their garage or workshop to scope it out for yourself. If they’re experienced, you may want to purchase a specialty tool like this rotary drill and work station. Otherwise, you can hit up your local hardware store for a basic set.

Gaming Chair

Military retirement gifts don’t have to be related to the military, or even stereotypical “manly” things — this one’s for gamers. Although, if the Veteran you know doesn’t play video games, they could still benefit from a comfy reclining chair to watch TV or read in. 

Any gamer knows that a good chair is a key part of the experience. This one from Amazon offers ultimate comfort and adjustability for PC gamers. However, if you’re willing to spend more, you can go for a chair with built-in speakers, charging ports, massage features, controls, and other functions. You can also buy them custom for the type of gaming you do. 

Exercise Gear

Leaving the military also means leaving mandatory PT and fitness buddies. This can be depressing for Veterans who aren’t used to finding their own motivation to exercise. On the flip side, Veterans are also more prone to exercise than civilians, given that they’ve been doing it regularly for many years. 

If your family member or friend prefers to work out outside, buy them a weighted jump rope that they can take on jogs. Some other items to consider are door frame pull-up bars, garage punching bags, or a new pair of running shoes if theirs are worn out.

Veteran’s Hat, Jacket, or Bumper Sticker

Veterans are usually not afraid to share their Veteran status with the world; in fact, they often find pride in it. You’ve probably seen the decals and trucker hats, whether they say “Vietnam Veteran,” “Desert Storm Veteran,” or something else. My dad wears his “Retired Chief Petty Officer” cap more often than not. 

Getting a Veteran a hat, jacket, bumper sticker, or some other gear that represents their military service is an easy way to show them that you find pride in their service as well. Try to make it specific to them — so, if they served in combat, you could buy a bumper sticker that says, “U.S. Combat Veteran,” or something of that nature. You can also buy them something that shows off the branch they were in.

For more ideas, check out Armed Forces Gear

Golf Equipment

There’s not many people who half-ass the sport of golf. Generally, you either love it, hate it, or don’t think about it at all. A true golfer is someone who can always use more golf gear. 

If you know a Veteran who loves to golf, consider buying them some new golf balls; you can get a specific color or even custom wording so they’ll know which ones are theirs on the course. You can also get them some new tees, golf shirts, or a nice new bag if theirs is worn out.

Framed Pictures

This isn’t as elaborate as a shadow box, but framed pictures are always a great sentimental gift. Choose pictures with meaning — ones from boot camp graduation and promotions, and ones that feature some of their best friends from the military. It’ll mean more than you know. 

Donation to a Veterans’ Charity

One of the best military retirement gifts you could give is a donation. And if you don’t know the Veteran very well, it might be more meaningful to make a donation anyway. This shows that you care without being overly personal — and it will make you feel good, too. For a list of the best military nonprofits, click here


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