Life Flip

How a Christmas-gift-to-be turned into a booming vet-owned business

The season is upon us: eggnog has invaded the dairy section, men are half-heartedly passing as Santa Claus ringing bells in front of your favorite department store and Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" has begun its usual hourly rotation.


Yes, it's Christmas and you have no idea what to get that special veteran in your life.

It's a difficult task; you want to get that special veteran something meaningful but not another bedazzled USN phone case. You have the better intuition to know that another beer koozie with the wrong rate/rank isn't going to cut it this year but not enough to know exactly what.

Well, for those who are trying to find the perfect military themed gift for a veteran friend or loved one, Medals of America just may have the solution:

From its humble beginnings in 1976, Army Veteran, Lee Foster's mother and father turned a small gift for his WWII Veteran grandfather into a Veteran owned and operated business that that is an official manufacture of US military medals, ranks, badges, and awards authorized for active duty service members as well as Veterans who'd like to honor and remember their service.

"My father, a Vietnam Veteran, wanted to preserve and display my grandfather's WWII medals and give them to him as a Christmas present in 1976. It took him over 9 months including contacting the French government to procure one of the medals but the present was a hit and the realization of a need for this company was born." says Lee Foster about his fathers experience and the inception of Medals of America.

Lee Foster, of Medals of America.

Unfortunately, the bedazzled phone case is not available through Medals of America, but they do have beer koozies and a Chocolate handgun in a Real Gun Case for those high-caliber cocoa lovers.

But that is only scraping the surface for the services Medals of America offers. Their specialty lies within their medals, ribbons and shadow boxes.

Any veteran can relate to the age-old story of losing ribbons, medals or awards while moving or to the test of time. Aside from making a trip to the nearest uniform shop on a base that is probably an hour drive away (a slightly biographical story) collecting these critical parts of a veterans personal history is a task.

Luckily, Medals of America makes these mementos easy to find and convenient to attain.

Medals of America's retail site makes the medals and ribbons easy to arrange, organized in order of precedence or alphabetically, making them easy to find. However, if you don't have the patience to arrange them, Medals of America can quickly arrange them for wear or display (which is also a purchase option should you need your entire ribbon or medal rack). There is also a new option to have your ribbon rack printed onto a decal. There are rate/rank pins, badges, and stickers all available in various styles.

However, the most significant gift and memento that Medals of America take great pride are the custom shadow boxes. With a variety of colors, frames and combination of medals, ribbons, pins, patches, rates, ranks and insignias, there is no limit to what you can achieve.

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For the more crafty of us, Medals of America offers empty shadow boxes, which allows you to build your box should you have specialty items that you would love to arrange yourself.

However, for those of us who need the extra help, there are plenty of solutions. Medals of America allows you to customize your box and placement of memorabilia. If you need any help with the arrangement or finding the correct patch or ribbons, you can call the customer support line.

"We are staffed with retired Veterans for all branches of the military. They will walk you through how to do it," Foster says, reassuringly.

The boxes speak for themselves when it comes to sensible things to get someone. It goes well beyond the notion of "gifts" in regards to how special something like this can mean to someone.

"We get letters from people all the time about how they did a shadow box and when it was opened the person cried," Lee Foster says about the sentimentality of the shadow boxes. "There is nothing you can do that will show how much you respect someone than that."