Retirement from the military is a big deal. It signals the turning of the page in one’s life — a big step regardless of vocation or career –, but for someone who has given years of their life to the service of their country, it’s both a proud and reflective occasion.
Being respectful to those who have dedicated their whole life to service is of the utmost importance. Recognition of a military retiree’s service is one of the most significant military ceremonies that there is.
Due to this, taking care of military retirement gift etiquette is of the utmost importance. It typically is not appropriate to gift mementos during the ceremony, except if the retiree’s peers arrange to present them with a U.S. flag that has flown over the capitol, which is considered acceptable. You here will learn some essential pointers to never make a gifting faux pas for this occasion ever.
Private Gifts can wait
It is very common to give personal gifts to the retiree. After all, sharing a personal attachment to the retiree would lead to something much more personal and private. However, it is considered bad etiquette to give the gift during the official retirement ceremony because that gift might overshadow the overall significance of the service.
Proper etiquette and protocol dictate to wait until after the ceremony has concluded to give the gift in private. This includes framed artwork, poems, pens, watches, or medallions that feature the logo of the branch that the retiree served in.
Personal gifts are lovely and show a level of caring and love that other gifts can’t match, but it is the importance of the ceremony itself, and nothing should minimize or mitigate that.
Don’t go generic
For other gatherings, holidays or get-togethers, things like gift cards or money are acceptable. They achieve the goal of giving a gift and don’t require a high level of dedication or personalization.
However, for a ceremony like this, it is vital to show the level of appreciation that you have for the honored member of the service. The dedication and commitment that they have proved to this country throughout the years cannot be matched and giving appropriate military retirement gifts shows you care and appreciate their service to the nation.
So save the impersonal gifts. Don’t go generic. Don’t give gift cards or money, useful as those items might be. This is a more significant event that deserves something more personal.
Try to find something for the specific branch the retiree served for
Staying on the theme of not getting a generic gift, it is key that if you do get something for the retiree, you get something that features the branch of the military that the honoree served for.
Take something that you know that the honoree likes — cigars, an alcoholic beverage, etc — and find something that is detailed with the branch of the military they served for emblazoned on it. It will feel personal but still give them that feeling of appreciation and have them remembering the camaraderie that made their time served special.
So what to get a military retiree?
There is a litany of options to consider, and it all comes down to how well you know the honoree. It doesn’t need to be the most touching or personal thing in the world, but it needs to show thought and effort.
Something that makes a great option is a personalized poker set. Regardless of the branch that the honoree served for, they likely spent a decent amount of time playing cards with their peers to pass the time.
A custom poker set — with their initials emblazoned somewhere on the case or the chips — will make their brothers and sisters in arms jealous and will make any gathering with those compatriots and friends all the more special.
Not only that, every single time they bust out that case to play some cards, they will think of the unique feeling they had getting that gift at their retirement ceremony. This truly is a one-of-a-kind gift idea.
A game for the whole family
The best kinds of gifts are not only those that appeal to the interests of the honoree and something that hearkens back to their days of service. Providing fond memories of their time in the service is the best kind of gift that they will remember for a long time to come.
Something to take into consideration is a custom made game. Perhaps a cornhole set that is custom designed for the honoree would be best. It allows for a personalization that will leave a lasting impression on the honoree while allowing the whole family to partake.
Best of all, it is possible to adorn the cornhole boards with the design of their specific branch of the military and even adding their name and rank to it. This will quickly become one of the favorite gifts that your honoree will ever receive.
Watch the gift
There are fewer gifts that are better for a retired military service member than a watch. Since they began serving, they followed a strict schedule being down to the minute on each activity.
A military-themed watch with their branch adorned on the face is sure to impress the honoree. Sleek enough to wear with any outfit, it will remind them of the camaraderie and their enjoyable experience during their time in the service.
It is a beautiful accessory and a classy way to thank the veteran in your life for their many years of service to this country.
An adult-themed gift
No, it’s not that kind of adult theme. Many military members share an affinity for an adult beverage, something that helps to bring together many good times between their peers and compatriots.
Finding a personalized or unique alcohol-based military gift set is a great idea. There are several glass sets that are adorned with each military branch and would make an exceptional gift by itself.
If you want to go above and beyond, try something like a personalized decanter or military flask. The latter will come with a personalized case featuring the honoree’s name and their rank as well as their date of retirement. This is an ultra-class gift idea that will remind the honoree of the fond gift that they received each time that they use it.
Ammo can gifts
One more simple yet personalized gift that you can give to that special honoree in your life is a personalized gift that comes in a military ammo case. These cases are personalized with the name of the honoree, the year that they were retired and their initials in a personal, stylized logo.
The contents of the case will also be personalized. Something like a whiskey glass set, a lighter, or a cigar set for those who like to kick back with a stogie is perfect.
This type of offering is a leisurely gift that helps them to relax with their favorite drink or cigar while giving a cool designer piece in the form of the ammo canister.
You can never go wrong with clothing
When all else fails, there is one tried and true gift-giving option that is sure to get a great reaction: clothing. For military veterans, this can be an easy way to provide a personalized gift without giving something like an alcohol gift set or a military-themed item.
Getting something like a zip-up fleece is excellent because it is versatile: the honoree can wear it almost anywhere. Not only that, fleeces are highly comfortable and can provide warmth during the colder months of the year.
Adding the patch representing the branch in which they served shows just enough of their history and service to let everyone know that they should be honored and respected without beating everyone over the head about their service.
Rings are wonderful as well
This author has several members of the United States military both as friends and family members, and one common link that is noticed are rings that are based on the branch of the military that that person served in.
Getting a ring that not only shows the branch of the military they served in but the color that represents that branch as well. Additionally, the retiree’s name is adorned on the side of the ring.
Not only is it an exquisite gift to give, anyone who sees it from a distance will automatically know that the wearer is a retired military veteran, and they will show the respect that is required.
There are several different gifts that are okay to give to a retiring member of the military. Knowing when to give those gifts is an integral part of the etiquette process so as not to upstage the ceremony itself.
Final words on military retirement gift etiquette
After the ceremony is over, there are many personal yet fun military gifts that can be given to the honoree that they will not only appreciate but will use for a long time to come. Though alcohol or smoking-based gifts are certainly common, they might not be acceptable for the person you are gifting it to. Knowing them well enough to know that is key.
You don’t need to get a gift that is luxurious or over-the-top, but showing just the right amount of a personal touch can go a long way towards honoring the retiree. They will appreciate that gift and the impact that they have had in your life.