5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

The time has finally come to bid goodbye to the military after over 20 years. It’s a huge accomplishment and a momentous occasion. So much so in fact that it often leaves us dumbstruck as to how to honor such an event. If you’re looking for perfect military retirement gifts, here are 5 great ideas to get you started.

5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

Memorial Bricks

5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

Each service has numerous memorial sites like museums and statues to honor our men and women who have served. Most of these places display plaques or bricks that can be engraved with the wording of your choice. For retirement, many people choose to inscribe the rank, name, and service dates. Pick a place that has some meaning to your retiree. Maybe the official museum of their service, their favorite duty station, the place they first enlisted, or the place from which they retired.

Shadow Boxes for the “Wall of Me”

5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

Every time the service buddies come over, what do they talk about? Work. After they retire, they will still talk about work, just more fondly since they don’t have to go back to it the next day. A shadow box on the wall is an excellent way to display rank insignia, ribbons, and medals as well as a small plaque with the service member’s rank, name, and service dates. Just be sure to hang this in a place you want them to congregate as they inevitably will. You can often have these made locally if you’re retiring around a larger military installation. If not, check online and you can probably find someone who can create something of the sort.

Shadow Boxes with a Purpose

5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

If wall décor isn’t what you’re looking for but you like the rank/ribbon/medal display idea, then consider having a wooden box made to hold something of importance to your service member. These likely need to be custom made, but can hold just about anything. Have the ranks/ribbons/medals displayed in the lid of the box and fill the bottom with a drawer of memorabilia or a foam form designed to hold a bottle of alcohol, a gun, or any other item of significance.

Items as Old as their Service

5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

Twenty years is a long time, especially since their time in service may have begun before today’s recruits were born. Acquiring items from the year they entered the service can be quite the task, but worth the effort. For example, if your spouse is a whiskey person, contact their favorite whiskey company and see if they have a bottle of whiskey barreled in the right year. You can do the same for coins or bills, most alcohol that is aged, newspapers, movie flyers, sporting event posters, or company specific memorabilia.

5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

Photo Book

Pictures are often something we only appreciate after memories have passed and time has faded. Digital images simply don’t cut it. Consider putting together a scrapbook or photo book of pictures and memories. If you don’t have enough on your own or weren’t around at the beginning, contact a few buddies and see what pictures can pull together as well as stories to go with them. This is also a great way to get the extended family involved. Facebook is a good place to start for both pictures and contacts.

Some of these may take time to hunt down or create and can be fairly expensive depending on availability. But with a little forethought, you can find the perfect military retirement gift that will make your service member feel loved and honored.

Check out this article on You’ll Be the Breadwinner: A Mostly Fictional Retirement Story

5 Meaningful Military Retirement Gifts

Photo Credits: Eastern Sky Photography



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  1. Do you have any more information about the shadow box picture you have for #2? (Company, website, dimensions, ect) I am trying to find that size shadow box for that specific type of layout for flags, ranks and awards. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. That shadow box was made for a retirement ceremony at MCAS New River in Jacksonville NC. I believe there’s a local company that makes them there, but don’t remember the company name.

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