Several years ago I saw a story on Fox13 in Tampa about a woman who designed and had challenge coins made so her children could learn to say "Thank You" to members of our armed forces. That became an opportunity to support veteran causes by becoming the Grateful American Coin. I ordered 10 coins... and since then I have ordered hundreds of coins and presented them to current and former members of our armed forces. It is always a thrill for me to tell a young person in uniform, or an older vet wearing a WWII, Korea or Vietnam Vet baseball cap thank you for your service. ALL proceeds above the cost of the coin go to support two great foundations that support wounded vets: the Special Operations Warriors Foundation and Paws For Patriots.
My most memorable coining was in a Bob Evans on a Sunday after church. There I watched a Vietnam vet wearing a Marine Corp baseball cap showing he had received a purple heart and bronze star and another award I didn't recognize. He was sitting in an electric wheelchair, and it was all he could do to feed himself. But this vet was not someone who would let someone help him eat. I told my wife that I was going to coin him before he left.
When I noticed that he was done eating and as he and his wife were preparing to leave I got up and went over to his table, excused myself, and talked with him for a few minutes. I asked him where he had been wounded and he told me during the Tet offensive. I asked him how long it had been since someone told him thank you. And then he broke my heart. Looking at me with a wounded look he answered, "No one has ever said thank you." With a tear in my eye, and a catch in my voice, I shook his hand with a gold and red Grateful American Coin in my hand, inserting it into his, and said, "Well, sir, today that is going to change. From a grateful American to an American hero, thank you for your service." For the next 10 minutes he examined that coin, turning it over and over and over - and he finally let his wife see it, too. And then, as they were leaving the restaurant and he was wheeling his electric chair out he stopped, looked over at me, and saluted. A proud Marine making this Air Force vet very happy.
It has been my experience that presenting a current or former member of our armed services does three very important things. First, it makes the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine happy that someone took the time and effort to say thank you. Second, it make the giver feel very good that they got to shake the hand of someone who is defending our Freedom. And, third, it provides an opportunity for the Grateful American Coin organization to present thousands of dollars to two wonderful organizations that support and serve wounded vets. And, that, my friends, is why Grateful America Coin is so VERY special!