With Veterans Day coming up, I checked my trusty Red Book to find any commemorative coins that would make a meaningful collection. For some reason, I have overlooked the many modern commemorative coins. I found a great number of commems that honor veterans. Most are readily available, and prices are not too painful.
The 1991 Korean War silver dollar and the USO dollar can start off a new collection. Three coins were issued to commemorate the 50th anniversary of World War II. The 1994 Vietnam Veterans Memorial dollar depicts the Memorial itself in DC, with a hand running over the names on the wall, a more emotion-invoking design than seen on many recent issues. The POW dollar, minted that same year, shows an eagle within barbed wire. There is also a 1994 silver dollar honoring Women in Military Service.
Three coins were minted in 1995 to commemorate Civil War battlefield preservation. The dollar's reverse includes a quote from Joshua Chamberlain.
The 230th anniversary of the Marine Corps was remembered on a 2005 silver dollar.
Another well-designed coin appeared in 2010, to honor disabled veterans. This silver dollar shows three veterans, one with a crutch, and one with one leg. In 2011, coins depicting the Medal of Honor were minted, a silver dollar and a $5 gold. The U.S. Army was commemorated with three coins. The following year, an Infantry Soldier dollar was minted. And in 2013, the nations' 5-star generals were honored with an attractive set of three coins.
While modern commems have taken their share of criticism--some designs are cluttered, or bear more lettering than design--this is an overlooked area of American numismatics. Any of these coins would make a wonderful gift for the veteran on your list.
Maybe older coins would be considered, such as a set of Wartime nickels. A set of these coins in circulated condition, in a special holder, is not that expensive. Even a Mint State set isn't that pricey, considering these coins are 35% silver and so historical.
Many coins were issued to honor those who served. Any of these coins would make a wonderful addition to your collection, or to start a new collecting interest.