By Patty Flowers, CEO, Eastern Wisconsin Region
For nearly a century, military personnel have created personalized challenge coins to honor exceptional individuals.
History says that a World War I flying ace had medallions printed for his unit to recognize their loyalty. One of these men was shot down in Europe and captured by the Germans. He actually was able to escape only to be captured by the French who thought he was German. By producing his coin, he proved what unit he was from and apparently saved his life because the French were going to execute him. What a story! Challenge coins have lived on throughout the years and are still used to this day to honor individuals. Military personnel collect these coins as though they are badges of honor.
So how did I, a non-military person, have the privilege of giving away a challenge coin? The Tiffany Circle is a society of women philanthropists who support the American Red Cross with a generous annual gift in support of many programs and services. I am a member of Tiffany circle and each year in May there is a summit of women from across the country who gather in Washington DC to learn more about the Red Cross and network to further their Circles back home. For the last two years at the summit meeting, all attendees received a coin with specific instructions challenging us to uphold this honored tradition by giving away the coin to an individual that is very deserving. Since last May, I’ve carried my coin in my work bag always looking for just the right occasion to depart with it, until recently.
Please allow me to introduce Adrianne Benson who is in the photograph with me. Adrianne is a Non-Commissioned Officer in Civil Affairs with the U.S. Army Reserve based in Green Bay. In her 14 years with the Army she has worked with diverse populations, led humanitarian projects, and served as liaison for several government bodies. She also served in Afghanistan. In addition to serving in the military, she is raising a family, is an active volunteer in the community, and she is also attending University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh full-time to earn a Bachelor of Arts International Studies degree. Through the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, Adrianne is part of the AmeriCorps Vet Corps program and has accepted an internship with us through March of 2014. We are delighted to have her helping with our Service to Armed Forces programs and know she will bring a new perspective that none of us can bring to the table. Adrianne recently told the story of receiving holiday cards from the Red Cross while she was in Afghanistan. She said she posted the cards on the wall above her bed and they made her smile because she knew someone in the U.S. was thinking of her. The Holiday Mail For Heroes program is one that Adrianne will be working on while interning with us and she is proof that these cards make a difference!
I am very proud to give my coin to Adrianne and know that she will always cherish it in the spirit it was given. Thank you for your service, Adrianne. We all appreciate you.