The best military graduation gifts for the US service member in your life

Mark the special occasion with a gift they’ll remember — and maybe a laugh or two.

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Life is full of milestones, and military graduation gifts are often used to celebrate one of the most significant. When someone you know is finishing up boot camp, officer candidate school, or another military course, they’re not just getting a pat on the back for completing the training curriculum — they’re embarking on a career, an adventure, and service with a responsibility up to and including their own life. Wanting to express your pride and gratitude is natural and good.

For those of you who haven’t served in the military, it’s not always easy to know what kinds of gifts will end up being useful. Luckily, we do, and we have a few suggestions — both serious and humorous — to make shopping easier. These are sure to put a smile on someone’s face, but don’t forget that one of the best military graduation gifts you can give is a round of drinks at the nearest bar.

Best Overall

Southwest Airlines Gift Card

Best Budget

Challenge Coin Display Case

Best Military Watch

Casio G-Shock GW6900-1

Best Ballistic Glasses

Oakley M Frame

Best Multitool

Leatherman Wave+

Best Military Boot Socks

Darn Tough Tactical Socks

Things to consider before buying a military graduation gift

There are basically two schools of thought here, folks. You can give a gift for basic training graduation that will be useful in everyday military life, or you can commence the time-honored tradition of ruthless mocking. If you’re feeling really generous, you can do both; that’s perfectly acceptable.

We rounded up our favorite gag gifts. If you want something a little more useful, you can always check out our list of the best military books or read about the best range bags we’ve tested.

Army graduation gifts

The Army’s budget is so extravagant that it’s hard to buy soldiers something they aren’t already issued — or that’s how it seems to the other branches, anyway. Go ahead and celebrate graduation from boot camp with a gift basket of every soldier’s favorite goodies: boot socks with no visible logo, a classy spittoon, and a few cans of their beloved Rip It.

Navy graduation gifts

The U.S. Navy has a long, strong history of military tradition. Sailors love to celebrate this rich tapestry of oceanic exploits by singing the sea service’s official song, made famous by the Village People. This vinyl copy sounds great with or without live vocal accompaniment and doubles as beautiful wall art. 

Marine Corps graduation gifts

Marines have a lot of inside jokes and unofficial traditions, but most of them are too vulgar, dangerous, or outright illegal to speak of openly. One safe bet is the reputation for being a bunch of knuckle-dragging, crayon-eating neanderthals. Lean into the stereotype with a delicious variety pack of your young Marine’s favorite snack: name-brand Crayolas. One box for now, one for later.  

Coast Guard graduation gifts

Coasties will give you all kinds of reasons for joining the Coast Guard. The truth, though, is that anyone who joined after 2006 was inspired by the heroics of Ashton Kutcher’s character in The Guardian. Help them decorate their barracks room with this tribute to their hero. They might act like they don’t get the reference, but you and I will know they do.

Air Force graduation gifts

Everyone likes to tease the Air Force for being the least physical branch of the military, but you try playing video games all night after spending all day in an office chair — it’s no picnic. Ease the hellish agony of substandard furniture with a heated, massaging office chair wrapped in elegant (fake) leather. 

Space Force graduation gifts

This one is a goldmine for jokes at the newest military branch’s expense. You could go with astronaut food, some kind of Buzz Lightyear reference, or the infamous Space Force Ka-Bar. Normally, a knife wouldn’t be a gag gift, but it’ll get a chuckle out of any (it pains me to use this term) Guardian. “A knife! Like, for fighting people! Oh my gosh, can you imagine?”

Final thoughts

Life in the military has plenty of challenges, but being separated from family and friends is a big one — especially for new service members. You can’t make anyone’s job easier and you can’t issue additional leave, but a Southwest Airlines Gift Card will take some of the financial stress out of coming home. 


For this gift guide, I looked back on my early days in the Marine Corps. I thought about the challenges my young Marines faced and how we all found ways of rising to the occasion. Some of the gifts on this list were inspired by long nights in the field. Others are items we relied on every day. A few are lessons that occasionally need to be learned the hard way. My goal was to create a shortlist of gift ideas that service members can genuinely use. They’ll make life in the military easier and be a reminder of your support every time they’re used. 


Scott Murdock Avatar

Scott Murdock

Commerce Reporter

Scott Murdock is a Task & Purpose commerce writer and Marine Corps veteran. Since 2020, he’s selflessly committed himself to experiencing the best gear, gadgets, stories, and alcoholic beverages in the service of you, the reader.