News

Challenge Coins Thank Vets, Help Nonprofit Groups

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2008 - Searching for a tangible way to help Americans express their deep gratitude to servicemembers for their sacrifices, a Tampa, Fla., couple has designed their own challenge coin.

"As Americans, we should honor and acknowledge the sacrifices of members of the U.S. military," said Deb Benson, who co-founded Grateful American Coin Inc. with her husband. "In doing so, we should individually do what we can, however small, to help those servicemen and women who have sustained the most severe injuries."

The Bensons are doing just that with their organization's new coins. The tangible "thank you" bears the five service insignia on one side and the phrase "Thank you for your service from a grateful American" on the other.

Grateful American coins are available for purchase from the organization's site. While purchasers are presenting them to veterans with a heartfelt "thank you," something they've done 2,894 times since December, the net proceeds from their purchase are being donated to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and America's Vet Dogs.

Both organizations support America's wounded servicemembers.

"Our goal is to write our first checks to these two organizations on our one-year anniversary in November," Benson said.

Grateful American Coin is a supporter of America Supports You, as are its two beneficiary organizations. America Supports You, a Defense Department program, connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

"The America Supports You [relationship] means a lot to our organization," Benson said. "[It] assists with credibility for our young organization while at the same time assisting with exposure for our program."

The work America Supports You does is valuable and needed for organizations like Grateful American Coin, she added.

Military challenge coins, typically bearing a unit's insignia, date back to World War I. Legend has it that a coin identifying the squadron of a pilot shot down and captured behind enemy lines saved him from being executed by the French as a spy. He provided his coin, the only personal property his enemy captors hadn't confiscated, as proof of his identity.

*Related Sites:*
Grateful American Coin [ http://www.defenselink.mil/news/ http://www.gratefulamericancoin.org ]
Challenge Coins Thank Vets, Help Nonprofit Groups [ http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=49991 ]

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