Gift Ideas for Army Promotions, ETS and Retirement

Gift Ideas for Army PromotionsIn today’s post, I would like to share some gift ideas for Army promotions, ETS and Retirement.  I truly believe that if you have people working for/with you, you should recognize their efforts whenever possible.  This especially holds true when it comes to ETS, promotions and retirements.  The last thing you want is someone to leave your command and have little to show for it.  Always do your best to recognize your soldiers, especially when they leave.

You want to make sure that each person gets something for their service.  This is great for morale and esprit de corps.  It shows your soldiers that you care.  That being said, here are a few of my favorite Army Gift Ideas.

  1. Plaques: You could order a plaque for the person.  On the plaque you could have a quote, their name, and something memorable.  You can have a nice plaque made for $40 or $50.
  2. Gift Card: Gift cards are great.  Some people might disagree with this, but I think it’s great if you have everyone in your section chip in what they want to and then take the money and buy a gift card for the soldier.
  3. Cash Bonus: Cash is king.  As mentioned above, you can have everyone in your section (who wants to) contribute to a going away fund.  You could give this money as a gift to the soldier.  Just don’t make the contributions mandatory.
  4. New Uniforms: You could have everyone contribute some funds and buy the soldier new uniforms, especially if they are low ranking and could use them.
  5. DVD or Custom Movie: You could create a custom DVD or movie from all the videos you have with everyone in your section.  This would be like a “remember us” video.
  6. Books: Books make great gifts.  You could pick up a few books that might help educate the soldier and make them a better leader.  Or, you could just purchase a few books that might interest them.
  7. Thank You Card: At a minimum, you should get a thank you or congratulations card and have everyone in your section sign it.
  8. Dinner Party with Family: You could take your soldier and his/her family out for dinner one night and treat them.  Find out the favorite restaurant of your soldier and take them there.

Once again, these are just a few gift ideas for Army promotions, ETS, and retirements.  Your key to success is to come up with something unique or different.  If possible, try to make it personal and memorable.  Never let a soldier leave without getting something from your section.  Even if they are a dirt bag soldier, at least get them a thank you card and wish them well on their way.  Whenever possible, you should also submit your soldiers for awards, in addition to their gift.

These Army Gift Ideas work well. Don’t feel like you need to spend a lot of money yourself. Get creative and find low cost ways to provide these gifts. If necessary, get some of your subordinate leaders to help contribute to the fund. And if no one else wants to contribute, you should use your own money. It’s simply the right thing to do. And it’s part of being a good leader.

Do you have any other gift ideas? If you have comments or questions, just post them below…thank you for visiting.

9 thoughts on “Gift Ideas for Army Promotions, ETS and Retirement”

  1. This is a great list of gift ideas Chuck. I especially like the gift cards, because that way a soldier can purchase what they actually need or want. Cash is also king; everyone loves cash. I also like the idea of a dinner party, or you could even get others together and throw a potluck type party to help them remember that day.

    Great list that will come to good use for some. Thank you.

  2. These are some really good ideas for Army Promotion gifts. A nice plaque will be commemorative and new uniforms are classy too. On the other hand, gift cards are really practical. Everybody loves gift cards because then you can go out and really get something you’ll use. I guess it depends on the individual who’s receiving the promotion.

  3. Katelyn Hensel

    Honestly, giftcards are great gifts. Not only are they easy for you and the recipient to use and purchase, they can show that you are thoughtful too. I’m not saying that plopping a visa giftcard down is thoughtful, but if the person you are buying for likes to do a specific activity, reading, kayaking, working out, etc, a giftcard that reflects how you know them as a person is a great gift.

  4. The idea of a video created by the unit is a wonderful and creative idea. The gifts with a personal touch are often the best received from what I’ve seen. One of the best ETS gifts I’ve seen was a personalized name strip for the next office they would move to in their career. We also kept a running “gift fund” where everyone was encouraged to donate what they could and when they could to contribute to any upcoming promotion/ETS/PCS/retirement gifts and events.

    1. Laura,

      I really like the idea about the personalized name strip for the next office. I’ve never heard of that one before, but I can definitely see the value in it.

      Your idea about having a unit gift fund is also a good idea. All units should have a few dollars put aside so they can give a going away gift to anyone who transfers, retires or leaves the military. It’s just the right thing to do.


  5. These are nice ideas. Retirement is such a big event that you want to do something special. To me, though, the best things often don’t cost much money. That DVD or video of all the guys in your section talking about the retiree, or even a compilation of some old footage if any of it is available, would often mean more than an expensive gift.

    1. I agree Andrew. Anything personalized is much more appreciated and sentimental. The DVD idea works great. So do many other things. Ultimately, everyone wants to know that they are/were appreciated. And a personalized gift is one of the best ways to show that.


  6. One time-honored tradition for commanders (at least at the company and battalion levels–it doesn’t really work above that) is to give the outgoing commander the unit’s guidon, normally framed. I’ve also seen senior NCOs given a miniature replica of the guidon. But even for a junior soldier, we always try to recognize them at their final formation and have the unit members say their goodbyes.

    1. I’ve always believed that giving the commander and first sergeant a company guidon was a great gift idea and departure gift. I think it’s also good to give soldiers a mini framed guidon as a departure gift. Most people cherish these awards long after their military service is over. I still have my framed company guidon hanging on my wall. I look at it every day while I am in my home office working.

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