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Articles Tagged with Cole Law

Collecting military challenge coins is something that service members understand. However, those outside the military may have never seen them before or comprehend their unique history. Many purposes are served by challenge coins in the military. One is to reward exceptional performance during training or combat operations. Rewarding excellence is commonly utilized among military leaders to incentivize excellence and raise the morale of a unit. At other times coins are awarded to all service members involved in a particular unit or mission. This shows that each Solider awarded the coin belongs to that unit or contributed to the mission. When I see a military challenge coin, I try to identify the unit, operation, or other insignia to determine if I recognize those features.

I was unaware of the traditions of military challenge coins until I arrived at West Point. As a cadet at the United States Military Academy, I often interacted with Army officers and senior non-commissioned officers who had on their desk or in their office a large collection of military challenge coins. I would sometimes recognize the unit insignia of a well known Army unit or a combat operation or training center that was displayed on a specific coin.

I distinctly remember the first time I was personally awarded a military challenge coin. As a cadet, I volunteered to be on the Color Guard during my sophomore year. As part of my Color Guard duties that year, I often carried general officer flags during parades. One day, as I was performing that duty for the Commandant of Cadets, Brigadier General Robert L. Caslen, the General surprised me by shaking my hand and thanking me for doing an excellent job in performing my duties. He presented me with a coin bearing one star and the West Point insignia that to this day is the military challenge coin of the highest rank that I have been awarded.

How Does the Army ROTC Program Work?

Military Law Attorney Paul Tennison

Military Law Attorney Paul Tennison

The US Military’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps is a system through which many college students can pursue an undergraduate education while conducting military training that prepares them for a period of service as a commissioned military officer. According to the US Army, “The overall mission of the Army ROTC Program is to produce commissioned officers in the quality, quantity, and academic disciplines necessary to meet active Army and reserve component requirements.”1 Army ROTC includes a chain of command starting with a Commanding General and going down through a Battalion Commander and Professor of Military Science (PMS) to individual cadets.

Military Law Attorney Paul Tennison

Attorney Paul Tennison accepting command of Battery B in Poland on August 15, 2019

A military discharge upgrade can be an important step in the life of a veteran who believes that he or she received a lower discharge than what was deserved. Various federal and state benefits are available only to veterans who were discharged at an acceptable level. The best discharge is an Honorable discharge, which should enable the veteran to access all benefits. General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions is the second highest level. Other Than Honorable Conditions Discharge is the third level, while a Bad Conduct Discharge is the fourth. Dishonorable is the lowest level of discharge and is reserved for those convicted of serious crimes while in the military. Veterans who receive a Dishonorable Discharge forfeit all benefits, cannot lawfully possess a firearm, and forfeit their right to vote. For more information about types of military discharges, you should refer to this article.1

Fortunately, U.S. federal law allows veterans to request a higher-level discharge through one of two record-correction boards. Within 15 years of discharge, veterans may apply to a Discharge Review Board (DRB) using form DD-293. Importantly, DRBs may not make a discharge worse nor can they overturn a court-martial decision. If a discharge occurred more than 15 years ago, a veteran can apply to the Board for Correction of Military Records (BCMR). Veterans should apply to the BCMR within 3 years of discovering the error or injustice they are asking the board to fix using form DD-149. BCMRs also cannot make a discharge worse or override a court-martial conviction.

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