Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here


Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

Try These Holiday Gifts Made by Veteran Entrepreneurs

Veteran-owned businesses are all over America. Here’s how to purchase a great gift and celebrate the ingenuity of those who have served

spinner image gifts made by veterans
Photo Illustration: Selman Hoşgör

Christmas and the season of giving are just around the corner.

spinner image people hold up a welcome home sign as someone from the military stands before an american flag. the words aarp veteran report appear above the flag
Getty Images/AARP

You can subscribe here to AARP Veteran Report, a free e-newsletter published every two weeks. If you have feedback or a story idea then please contact us here.

Finding that perfect holiday gift can be challenging. To help with your shopping needs, AARP Veteran Report has compiled a list of gifts made by veteran entrepreneurs:

Beard Care and Grenade Soap Kit, from the K Bar Soap Company, $54.97

Marine combat veteran Chris McKinney founded K Bar Soap Company in 2016. Based in South Carolina, the company takes its name from the legendary 1219C2 knife and produces all-natural, cold-processed soap with scents named after sayings and concepts familiar to those who have served in uniform.

The Beard Care and Grenade Soap Kit comes in “Napalm in AM,” “Firewatch” and “Whiskey and Bad Decisions” varieties. It features a “7.62 oz. soap grenade of all-natural showering freedom,” beard grease, beard oil and a cedar soap dish.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

Big Iron Blend Coffee (Medium-Dark Roast) from Altruistic Joe, $21

Jamie Jenks, a former search-and-rescue pilot in the Coast Guard, founded Altruistic Joe with his wife, Libby, after spending more than 20 years in uniform. Their Big Iron Blend takes its name from the MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter, which he flew. They describe the brew as a “wonderfully balanced blend … full of rich caramel and milk chocolate notes, citrus-like acidity, and a touch of smoke.”

Big Iron Blend is a washed whole-bean coffee sourced from Guatemala and Sumatra, and ground options are available. Twenty percent of Wyoming-based Altruistic Joe’s proceeds go to charity.

Hand-Forged Railroad Spike Knife from 51 Bravo, $100

Army veteran Shawn Moulenbelt established his company 51 Bravo after being inspired by his brother, a Marine veteran. The company name comes from the famed bolt-action sniper rifle. Moulenbelt was in his 40s and had spent years working in construction and remodeling when he decided to become an entrepreneur.

He has a thriving business forging knives in Michigan, taking pride in what he intends to be heirlooms passed down through families for generations. He sums up the Railroad Spike item as “a great conversation piece and a badass knife!”

Otto Canvas and Leather Handbag in Camo from R. Riveter, $268

Military spouses Lisa Bradley and Cameron Cruse founded R. Riveter to meet the needs of military spouses who relocate frequently and have difficulty finding jobs. Their handbags are made by military spouses across the country.

The company name was inspired by the iconic Rosie the Riveter. Each handbag is named after a woman in history who changed the world. The Otto handbag, which is available in camo, is named after Elinor Otto, a riveter who turned 103 in October. One of the company’s most popular handbags, it has an adjustable cross-body strap.

See more Health & Wellness offers >

Locked and Loaded Lemon Pepper Beef Jerky from GI Jerky, $11.99

GI Jerky originated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2015 when Steve Royer, an aviation operations specialist in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, began selling his homemade fare to his comrades. “I would walk off the field five or six hundred dollars richer,” he recalled this year. “And I thought maybe I would be able to turn this into something. So that’s how it started — just me not wanting to eat Army food.”

Royer, based in Texas, sells his jerky at rodeos, gun shows and trade shows throughout the year, and it is available in a variety of stores and online. A portion of every GI Jerky sale goes to veteran support organizations, and Royer donates jerky to first responders. Locked and Loaded is one of seven flavors, among them Tactical Teriyaki, Hellfire and Fire Mission.

“Official Spirit of a Grateful Nation” from Heroes Vodka, $14.99

Marine veteran Travis McVey served as a Presidential Honor Guard from 1989 to 1992 and founded his Heroes Vodka company after discussing the idea with his friends at VFW Post 1291 on Memorial Day 2009. His vodka was first bottled on Veterans Day in 2011 — the 11.11.11 date that occurs only once a century.

Tennessee-based McVey bills his vodka as the “Official Spirit of a Grateful Nation.”  It is made in Kentucky from American corn. Each handcrafted batch is distilled four times, and every purchase of Heroes Vodka supports veterans through a giveback partnership program.

Peanut Butter Dog Treats from K9 Salute, $10.50

K9 Salute was founded in 2016 by Jessica Harris, who was a 20-year medic in the Washington National Guard, in honor of brave dogs that work in the military, law enforcement, fire brigades, search and rescue and as service animals. Her heart-shaped peanut butter treats are made from garbanzo bean flour, flaxseed, peanut butter, quinoa, coconut oil and dried eggs. Harris uses proceeds from her Washington state company to donate and raise funds to help veterans get service dogs and for police departments to buy protective vests and other equipment for their dogs.

You can subscribe here to AARP Veteran Report, a free e-newsletter published every two weeks. If you have feedback or a story idea then please contact us here.

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?