Top 5 Gift Ideas for Army Retirees

Like all good things, there comes a time when it must end.  Our military careers are no different.  For some, it is a long anticipated moment.  For others, it may be one of the most difficult things to do.  Regardless of your convictions, most would agree that we are extremely proud of our service and our military accomplishments.  As leaders, we should recognize this fact and make a point to truly honor and commemorate our Soldiers/NCOs service upon their retirement.

Sure, military awards are great.  But, there’s nothing like a personalized gift that your Soldier can cherish for many years go come. That being said, here are my Top 5 Gift Ideas for Army Retirees.

military shadow box5. Personalized Plaque: There are hundreds of different styles and types of plaques that can honor a Soldier’s career.  Now, I am not talking about a “certificate of appreciation” or something lack luster here.  No, I am talking about a plaque that a Soldier would be proud to hang above his personal desk or mantle at home.  There are plaques that can be made into an MOS specific theme, include rank insignia, skill badges or even photographs.  Here is an example plaque.

4. Flag Display Shadow Box: These can be simple, yet extremely elegant.  Oftentimes, our military awards, coins and other sentimental items often find their ways into random drawers or other locations.  What a better way than a shadow box to display our achievements.  A personalized shadow box is even better!  Example shadow box.

3. Guidon Display: For some Soldiers, nothing means more than the colors that represent their unit.  Especially for Company Commanders!  I have known it to be SOP to give an exiting commander a framed guidon display that expresses the units appreciation for their Leadership.  These make great gifts for retiring Battalion Commanders and Battalion Command Sergeant’s Majors.

2. Statue Display: You could order a nice bust or statue of a famous Soldier, such as a Civil War Soldier.  You could get it engraved with a nice quote or personalized message to thank the Soldier.

1. Cavalry Sword Display: To me, as an Armor Officer, this is one of the greatest gifts I could ever receive.  Many Armor/Cavalry Officers have Sabers that were given as gifts throughout their career.  What a better way to hang up your Stetson, spurs and saber than a personalized display.  Check out this example Cavalry Sword Display!

FINAL THOUGHTS: These are just my thoughts on good retirement gift ideas.  Of course, we should cater our rewards to the Soldier and their military career and accomplishments.  Many Soldiers like different things.  No matter what you choose, a comical PPT Slideshow commemorating the Soldiers career never fails!

What are some of the best retirement gifts that you have seen?  Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

25 thoughts on “Top 5 Gift Ideas for Army Retirees”

  1. It’s hard to beat a shadow box as a retirement gift. That’s what our unit normally gives people when they retire and they always like it.

  2. Another great option is simply to ask the person what they want for a retirement gift. It might not be as exciting or a surprise, but at least they will like the gift.

  3. Here are some of my favorite gift ideas for Army retirees.

    1. Cash
    2. Shadow Box
    3. Gift Card
    4. Personalized gift such as a flask or fountain pen
    5. Pocket watch

    I hope that helps.

  4. Our Soldiers did a nice customized shadow box for our First Sergeant when she retired and she absolutely loved it!

  5. My favorite gift ideas for retirees is something personalized. Find out what the person likes or wants and give them it. That’s the least you can do for someone who has served their country for 20 years.

  6. I think a shadow box is the best gift for retirees. Or, something personal that they will remember and cherish, like a photo album.

  7. If you want to give your Army retiree a good gift, throw them a good going away party and give them something personal, such as a shadowbox.

  8. Another great gift idea for an Army retiree is a framed flag or shadowbox. You can have one of these made for about $100 and they are a very personal gift.

  9. I think the best gift idea for an Army retiree is to create a scrap book with a bunch of photos of them with the unit, and of the retiree with photos from all of their duty assignments. This is a very nice personalized gift.

    1. Great idea, Mary. If you have someone really creative in the unit, you could make a really neat scrapbook with a couple hundred photos in it. I’m sure a present like this would be cherished by the retiree.

  10. Retirement gifts are a great way to express gratitude for service and to say a fond farewell as a retiree transitions from military to civilian status. Friends, family and colleagues have an array of ideas to choose from, depending upon the recipient and the nature of the relationship. All of the options noted in the article are beautiful traditional gifts that any retiree would be pleased to receive. I have given a few of them myself. It is often appropriate to consider a personal touch, as well. You might consider something pertaining to the retiree’s interests, hobbies, or future plans.

    Over the years I have hit upon some ideas that were well-received and appreciated, such as caricatures. I have also created digital memory books, full of photos, quotes, descriptions of milestones, accomplishments and special occasions. This is easy and relatively inexpensive to do these days through any number of online services. There are a few retired soldiers that I know (I won’t mention any names) who had stashed their coins and medals in boxes “for safekeeping”, and I’ve been able to gain access to them (with a little ingenious assistance from moms, sisters and wives) to assemble them into personalized displays, usually in a shadow box.

    The most memorable gift I gave a retiree was to my own father, who was also an avid gardener and could not wait to start on some related projects he had dreamed of for years. I assembled a collection of some much-needed replacement tools, as well as some selections from his “wish list”, in an Army foot locker. I also included a set of “orders” for retirement, with duty descriptions such garden as often as you wish, take time to smell the roses, take my mom to France, and allow your daughter to take you out for lunch once a month. He loved it. Get creative if the occasion calls for it, but whatever you choose, give it with grace in honor of service and sacrifice.

  11. I agree, Chuck. Nothing is showing appreciation more than when Soldiers come together to get a gift for another Soldier on his/her way out. Those types of gifts truly are appreciated and held in a special place for the rest of their lives.

    1. Amy Skalicky

      Justin, I like the way you phrased that. Gifts from family members are one thing, but when soldiers get together to commemorate another soldier’s accomplishments over the years and to wish him well on his way out, it has a unique and special meaning. A soldier’s relationship with his fellow soldiers is different from any other. For most, that’s actually the hardest part about retiring. So a heartfelt gift, whatever it is, will be treasured in the years to come.

  12. These are really some great gift ideas for military retirees, Justin. At the end of the day, what I believe is important that EVERY retiree gets some type of personalized gift to thank them for their military service. It doesn’t have to cost a lot either! It’s the thought that counts. When in doubt, ask the person (or their spouse) what they would like as a gift.


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