Don’t Get Dirty (like me), Get ‘Coined’: Here’s How

22 Jun

Already one Thrifty Vintage Chic fan is set to be “coined” for their donation of $1,000. But what does that mean exactly? (Other than a generous heart single-handedly has nearly funded the entire Walter Reed BBQ.) Cooking With The Troops’ Blake Powers explains this time-honored military tradition.

{Don’t Get Dirty (like me), Get ‘Coined’: Here’s How}

By Blake Powers, Guest Columnist

Just as businesses like to recognize and reward employees who do an outstanding job, the military has a tradition for recognizing those who go the extra mile as well.  While the public tends to think of medals for heroism and such, troops of all services know that coins can tell the tale about service.

The tradition of coins in the military goes back, and many believe that it started with pilots in the Army Air Corps. Others believe that it began in WWII.

However it started, the idea of giving small medallions, or coins, to recognize those in elite units or that did exemplary service that gained popularity within the military.

To be coined was something special, and in some cases the coins were even numbered to emphasize that they were not just handed out randomly.

Troops often vie for coins from “the brass”, including the Commander-in-Chief, as to have one means a personal meeting with that person.

Spc. Aaron Smith

Gen. Raymond Odierno presents Spc. Aaron Smith his coin, October 21, 2009. (Photo Courtesy of 17th Fires Brigade)

Of course, troops being troops, coins take on another use as well.  When they gather off-duty, you may hear the words “Coin Check” ring out.

Those present have to produce their coin and the person with the highest ranking/rated coin “wins” while the lowest coin present has to buy a round of drinks.

The exception is that if the person calling coin check is trumped by someone else with a higher coin, they have to buy the round.

Coin check is also used to verify service.  If while out, one comes across someone claiming to be a SEAL/Green Beret/etc., a member of the military may call “coin check” to see if they can verify that service.  If they can’t produce a coin, the person is considered to be a fake unless other real ID can be produced.

Today, the tradition has expanded to other militaries, and even out into the private sector with businesses, the NFL, and even a symphony orchestra issuing challenge coins.

I‘m doing this SEAL PT Course to raise $16,500 so Cooking With The Troops can host two morale boosting BBQs for wounded soldiers! CLICK to DONATE

While some places like to coin everyone, Cooking with the Troops has adopted the traditional military model and only gives coins to those who provide exemplary service:

  • wounded who are contemplating a culinary career
  • those civilians who provide exemplary service as a volunteer or in assistance to the organization
  • those who donate at least $1,000.

While our coins are not numbered, we do keep a list of all who receive a coin so as to follow and honor the military tradition.

Blake Powers is co-founder of Cooking with the Troops.


3 Responses to “Don’t Get Dirty (like me), Get ‘Coined’: Here’s How”

  1. Denise Olson June 22, 2011 at 11:16 AM #

    Great article! I discovered your site through BlackFive and I’m delighted to find someone who’s learned there’s more to the military than weapons and PT. I also love your vintage style. This Air Force veteran – from back in the days when we were still “girls” and working hard to be accepted as “airmen” – still carries one very special coin at all times just in case a coin check is called.

    Cooking with the Troops is a great cause and I’m glad to add a little to help you beat your goal. Keep up the good work!


    • Thrifty Vintage Chic June 22, 2011 at 12:42 PM #

      Denise, so thrilled you found me through BlackFive! I will look forward to more of your feedback and input in upcoming posts for this campaign and in the future with my “normal” content! And, thank you so, so much for contributing to my ambitious goal!! It definitely is a worthy cause!! PS: loved your site — I loved the notion of having a single place to highlight a region that has meant so much to one’s family!



  1. From Fashionista to Military Non-Profit’s First ‘Coined’ Civilian « Thrifty Vintage Chic - June 24, 2011

    […] Civilian Earlier this week, when Blake Powers of Cooking with the Troops explained the history behind “coining”,  it fascinated me to learn the history and context of a military tradition which I never […]


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