Military Retirement Gift Ideas You Should Consider

In today’s post, I’d like to share some of my favorite military retirement gift ideas. These are gifts Soldiers, friends, family members, co-workers, or peers could give to someone retiring from the military.

When it comes to military retirement gift ideas, there are two options. There are gifts from individuals (normally in the $25 to $100 range) and there are group gifts (normally $300 to $1,000 range). The amount spent is often based on the service member’s rank and years of service, although it is ultimately a personal decision. I will cover both situations in today’s article.

All good things come to an end, including military careers. If you have a friend, family member, or peer who is about to retire, and you’re wondering what to get them, this is the post for you. Before you purchase any gift, remember this:

  • Personal gifts are best.
  • Each person is different, so it’s best to pick something the person will like.
  • Stick within your budget.
  • How you PRESENT the gift to the person is just as important as the gift itself.

military retirement gift ideas

Inexpensive Military Retirement Gifts

What you will see below is a list of gift ideas from individuals. Most of these gift ideas are in the $25 to $100 range.

Coffee Mug

Most people like a good cup of coffee. Perhaps you could find a funny coffee mug that the person can enjoy looking at each morning while they drink their hot cup of coffee.

retirement coffee mug

Unit Photo with Everyone’s Signature

If you work with the person who is about to retire, you could have a unit photo done and have everyone sign it and inscribe it with a message.


You can get a decent watch for $25 to $100. I like the military style watches, like the one you see below.

military watch

Pocket Knife

Just about everyone needs a good pocket knife. My favorite type is a CASE XX.

case xx pocket knife


Perhaps you can find an inexpensive wall clock the person might enjoy.

retirement clock

Funny Shirt

There are some really funny shirts you can buy on Amazon. The person will think of you each time they wear it.

retired army t-shirt

Gift Cards

You could get the person a gift card to their favorite restaurant. Even better, you could buy them an Amazon gift card.

amazon gift card

Personalized Cell Phone Case

Going on adventures? A personalized durable phone case to shield their phone will be best.

custom cell phone case


Protect their eyes from the sun with a pair of sunglasses.

military sunglasses

Fishing Pole & Kit

Giving someone a fishing pole or fishing kit is a great military retirement gift idea.

fishing pole and kit

High End Military Retirement Gift Ideas

What you will see below are high end military retirement gifts. These are great gift ideas when a group of people pool their money together to purchase something nice for the person about to retire.

Quality Watch

Watches are a great gift if they are quality. You can purchase a high quality watch in the $500 to $1,000 range, especially if you shop around. You can have the watch engraved with the service member’s information. You won’t be able to purchase a Rolex, but you could get a nice OMEGA or Tag Heur.

quality watch

Personalized Military Ring

Rings are nice. You can purchase a gold or silver military ring in the $200 to $1,000 price range. You could have the ring inscribed with the service member’s name, rank, military branch, and years of service. This is something they could wear to remind them of their military service.

military ring

Challenge Coin Display

If you can coordinate with the service member, you can take their challenge coins they’ve collected through their years of military service and assemble it into a framed challenge coin display. You can even purchase challenge coin displays online, at such sites as Amazon.

challenge coin display

Shadow Box

Shadow boxes are one of my favorite gifts for military retirees. You could get a copy of their medals, ranks, photos, and key achievements and compile the information into a beautiful, personalized shadow box. This is something the service member could keep on their desk or wall and cherish for many years to come.

shadow box

Military shadow boxes were originally simple boxes in which sailors retiring from shipboard service carried their belongings ashore. Superstition held that if the sailor’s shadow touched shore before he set foot upon it, he would suffer ill luck. By carrying his belongings, a metaphorical “shadow” of himself, enclosed within the box he could ensure he would touch land before his “shadow”. ~ Wikipedia

Personalized Movie

This is a great gift. If you are tech savvy and have access to the service member’s career highlights, you could make a great Power Point presentation and then do a voice over and convert it into a home movie. This is something the retiree could give copies of to loved ones, or simply review from time to time to reflect on their military career.


military retiree on vacation

This sounds crazy, but hear me out. You could give the military retiree a nice vacation for $1,000 or less. Perhaps you pay for two airline tickets and a hotel for three nights to somewhere nice. If you shop around online, you can find some great deals for a very reasonable amount of money. If a bunch of people at work chip in $10 to $20 each, it would be easy to come up with the money.

Gift Card or Cash

Gift cards or cash are nice, but it would be my least recommended item on this list because it’s not personal. Once they spend it, it’s gone, never to be thought of again. But, if you know the person is in a tight financial spot during their transition to retirement, this could be a great military gift idea for retirees.

Personalized Photo Album

If you can coordinate with the service member’s spouse, perhaps you can collect 100-200 photos of the person during their military career and compile everything into one unique photo album. This is something most people would cherish.

High End Fountain Pen

There’s nothing like a quality fountain pen. If you can pool the money together with a few people, you could buy a nice Mont Blanc fountain pen that is inscribed with the service member’s name on it. You might even be able to get a gold or silver fountain pen.

quality fountain pen

Sword or Saber

A sword or saber might just be the ultimate military retirement gift idea, especially if it is mounted and personalized.

military sword or saber

High End Whiskey

You can give your military retiree a bottle of expensive whiskey, or a case of their favorite whiskey (or whine).

iPhone 14

Keep them up to date with the latest technology buy gifting them the latest iPhone. No matter what variant you give them, they will surely love the latest model produced by Apple.

iphone 14

Tips for Success

Choosing a retirement gift for a military service member involves considering their service, personal preferences, and future plans. Here are some tips to help you select the perfect gift:

  1. Reflect on Their Service: Consider their years of dedication and the significance of their military career. Personalized gifts acknowledging their rank, branch, or specific achievements can be deeply meaningful.
  2. Practicality & Functionality: Gifts that assist in their transition to civilian life can be invaluable. Think about items that cater to their hobbies, post-retirement plans, or daily needs.
  3. Sentimental Value: Look for items that hold sentimental value, such as custom-made memorabilia, shadow boxes displaying medals and honors, or a personalized photo album capturing their military journey.
  4. Consider Their Interests: Factor in their hobbies or interests outside of the military. Whether it’s golfing, painting, traveling, or anything else, a gift related to their passions can show thoughtfulness.
  5. Quality Over Quantity: Instead of multiple small gifts, consider investing in one meaningful and high-quality item. It could be a watch, a piece of jewelry, or an heirloom-quality item that symbolizes appreciation.
  6. Consult with Others: If unsure, reach out to fellow service members, friends, or family for gift ideas. They might offer insights into the retiree’s preferences or suggest unique gifts.
  7. Personalization: Adding a personal touch, such as engraving, embossing, or customizing the gift with their name, service dates, or a heartfelt message, can enhance its significance.
  8. Gifts of Relaxation: Retirement is a time to unwind. Consider spa vouchers, travel packages, or relaxation-themed gifts that allow them to enjoy their newfound freedom.
  9. Respect Their Wishes: Some retirees may prefer donations to veteran charities or organizations over personal gifts. Respect their wishes if they express preferences for contributions instead.
  10. Presentation Matters: Pay attention to the presentation of the gift. A well-packaged and thoughtfully presented gift adds to the overall sentiment.

Remember, the most important aspect is the thought and appreciation behind the gift. Taking the retiree’s personality, preferences, and service into account will guide you in selecting a meaningful and memorable retirement gift.

Suggested Video

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, these are my best military retirement gift ideas I can think of. I hope you found the information helpful. What are your thoughts? What military retirement gift ideas can you recommend to other people reading this article? Leave a comment below to let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing from you.

Suggested Reading
  1. Army ETS Awards
  2. Recommending Soldiers for Awards
  3. The Meritorious Service Medal
  4. NGB Form 23
  5. Military Friendly Places to Retire
chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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1 thought on “Military Retirement Gift Ideas You Should Consider”

  1. Johndel Callora

    Whether it’s inexpensive or expensive, big or small, little or it’s always the thought that counts. It’s a matter of how we say we appreciate them for their service.

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