Under the Radar

2018 Veteran Gift Guide: For Veterans, By Veterans

Christmas gifts

With our 2018 veteran gift guide, you can give friends and family amazing holiday gifts by supporting veteran businesses. Like the generations who served before, modern vets have started innovative businesses that draw on their military experience.

Not only have they created great products, many of them have pledged some of their proceeds to organizations that aim to help their fellow service members.

Check out some of our favorites and choose great gifts for your Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa needs.

Flags of Valor

Flags of Valor founder Brian Steorts hires combat veterans to make beautiful, handcrafted wooden United States flags here in America. Most of those veterans are service-disabled, so your purchase goes to support and provide opportunity for men and women who often need it most. In addition to the flags, the company offers hats and T-shirts on its website.

Combat Flip Flops

Combat Flip Flops was founded by special ops veterans to make sure their service had a long-term positive effect in the conflict zones where they served. They have grand ambitions: They want to grow entrepreneurs in conflict areas, help build communities and use profits to fund women's education.

The company started with incredibly well-made flip flops and has expanded into shoes, clothing, jewelry and gym bags. The company supports several charities, including The Station Foundation for special operations veterans, the Mines Advisory Group and Aid Afghanistan for Education.

Black Rifle Coffee Company

Black Rifle Coffee Company doesn't just want to sell you a cup of joe, it wants you to fully embrace the badass lifestyle that its roasting and marketing skills represent. It's an attitude that has won it a lot of fans -- and an attitude that scares off the faint of heart.

In addition to a wide range of beans (sold by the bag or as part of a Coffee Club delivery service), it sells mugs, tumblers and a whole lot of complicated coffee-making gear.

Rumi Spice

Rumi Spice is a true luxury brand, a company started by veterans to source top-quality, sustainably farmed saffron from farmers in Afghanistan. The company employs 1,900 women in Herat to do the complicated labor of extracting the spice by removing the stigma from the delicate flowers.

Saffron is by far the most expensive spice, but the tiniest bit gets the job done. Rumi sells it in very small quantities, which should be enough for anyone who wants to learn how to cook with it. It also has a line of other spice blends and teas that should appeal to anyone who's spent time in that part of the world.

'Man of War' by Sean Parnell

Army veteran Sean Parnell's best-selling memoir was an outstanding read and a fascinating account of his time in service. His new book "Man of War" is an action thriller, featuring special operator Eric Steele. Parnell's got talent as a novelist, and his publisher is already subtitling this one "Eric Steele Book 1." Anyone who loves military thrillers should go crazy for "Man of War." You can read an excerpt here.

GORUCK

Green Beret Jason McCarthy took what he learned in combat and used that intel to design a go-ruck that met his needs and standards. Other people liked what they saw and asked if he could make one for them, and GORUCK was born.

The website proudly describes the products as "overbuilt," and GORUCK has developed a fervent fan base who think the goods are most definitely worth the price. The company is currently expanding into footwear, with a modernized version of the jungle boots that special forces wore in Vietnam.

Ranger Up

Ranger Up is known for its funny and/or obnoxious T-shirts, full of memes that will entertain other folks who understand military culture. It also sells hats, hoodies, drinkware, posters, wall hangings, candles and stickers, plus a limited selection of Black Rifle Coffee and Combat Flip Flops. Imagine a military version of Spencer Gifts.

Elvis Presley - '68 Comeback Special 50th Anniversary Box Set

Most people remember Elvis Presley for the cheeseball movies he made and rhinestone jumpsuits he wore after he completed his Army service, but he got his mojo back for a couple of years in the late 1960s, starting with an NBC special that aired in December 1968. Now, fans can get the entire story with the '68 Comeback Special 50th Anniversary box set. The 2 Blu-ray, 5 CD set includes the show as broadcast, a ton of additional video footage and all the rehearsals for the show. That includes the legendary acoustic performances with his original Sun Records bandmates, music that may just be the best he ever recorded.

Rags of Honor

Rags of Honor is a Chicago-based screen printing company that hires homeless veterans, pays them a living wage and aims to help them acquire the skills that will help them succeed in civilian life.

It offers a full line of T-shirts and hats, and you can hire the company for custom screen-printing jobs as well.

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