The Depot

Old Military Uniforms & What to do With Them

old military uniforms ocp closeup

There comes a day when everyone serves their last day in uniform. For some, they were one and done. They served one term, did their duty and returned to the civilian ranks. For others, they served for several years, and maybe around half way to retirement they decided to hang up their boots and reintegrate into the civilian sector. And for others they went the distance, staying in the ranks for 20 or more years, retiring from a life they started in the ranks long ago.

Make no mistake about it though, everyone, eventually, serves one last day in the ranks and when they do, they are usually left with a duffel bag issued in basic training that is full of old military uniforms. In most cases, the local supply non-comm will not require a separating individual to turn them in, even if they were issued. This is definitely the case if an individual purchased his or her own uniform items.

Sure, the departing service member will have to return issued gear and equipment, but ordinarily many will have a bunch of old military uniforms and no further requirement to wear them. What can a person do with old military uniforms? Here are some ideas.

Donate to Charity
Old military uniforms can easily be donated to charity and they will certainly be put to good use. Most charities sell donated clothing items and then use the cash generated from sales of used clothing items to fund their social service programs.

Old military uniforms can be purchased at second hand shops and used as Halloween costumes, or for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing. They might also be sought-after items for those who work outside because old military uniforms are durable and stand up to rigorous activities.

old military uniforms ocp

Planning to donate old military uniforms to a charity? Just remember to take the patches off of uniforms shirts. The last thing anyone wants is individuals using Stolen Valor to manipulate situations, and while getting patches, ranks, and medals is easy in the United States, making it easier for the liars is frowned upon by fellow veterans. Before donating old military uniforms, remove all patches.

Make them Work Clothes
Because of their durability, old military uniforms make great work clothes for chores around the house. Consider using them for landscaping, gardening, automotive and household repairs, and just about anything rough and dirty. Of course this doesn’t apply to Class A or Class B uniforms.

Old military boots are great for cutting the grass and using lawn maintenance equipment because they are steel-toed and can protect feet from flying rocks, fast moving string cutters, and blades. Workshop at the house? Wear the old combat boots.

Turn them into fashion
Remember when Bill Murray’s character in the movie Stripes talked about how women were paying top dollar for Army uniforms? Well, he’s not wrong, and a quick scan online reveals that cammo cargo shorts are going for more than $35. But instead of selling them, old military uniforms can be modified and worn.

For example, old military uniform pants, like the OCP pants, make great shorts. Take some scissors to those bad boys and cut them just below the side cargo pocket and they will become extra comfortable cargo shorts. Because they are old military uniforms, they will be nice and broken in.

Similarly, old military uniforms can be used to workout. Former physical training uniforms and t-shirts are great for working out. Old military uniforms that are sweats can be worn when there’s a little bit of inclement weather. The old physical training jackets are great for the fall or spring when it is just slightly cool out.

old military uniforms PT

Sell them
Log onto any online selling platform and it is evident that old military uniforms are a popular item. Many people buy them and use them for the aforementioned reasons. However, it is important to ensure that the property being sold does not belong to the U.S. government. The last thing anyone wants is to be busted for selling old military uniforms online. Make sure that the old military uniforms that are being sold are not property of the U.S. government.

Army Navy or military surplus stores, sometimes located around the major U.S. military bases, sell old military uniforms and they might be interested in purchasing more. Selling old military uniforms to a fellow Soldier, Airman, Sailor, Marine, Guardian and Coastie, at a bargain, not only will put money in a seller’s pocket, but it will also help a fellow cash-strapped service member.

Donate to Junior Enlisted
This option is often overlooked by many people leaving the ranks. If there are people in the unit, in the squad, or in the team, that are similar in size, but junior in rank, they might truly appreciate the donation especially if the items complement their own supply. For example, donating boots might help a young infantryman who can use the spare boots as field boots. The same goes for uniforms. Maybe they can use the extra uniform as field uniforms that are intentionally reserved for the rigors of being in the field, getting dirty and tattered.

Maybe they have been working out or hit a growth spurt and need the uniforms but can’t afford to get another set. Handing down old military uniforms is a great way for departing soldiers to keep a part of themselves alive in the ranks. Encourage those who are receiving the donations to return the favor when they can that way the old military uniforms get used beyond their serviceability.

old military uniforms issued

No matter what fate old military uniforms finally face, it is important not to throw these items away or discard them improperly. It is wasteful and there is someone out there who can definitely put the old military uniforms to good use in some form or fashion.

Remember to keep a set because someday a relative or a friend might ask about old military uniforms and it will be a good thing to have at least one set to be shown off and kept as a memento of military service.