We create a lot of challenge coins for fundraising efforts and for nonprofit organizations. In fact, so many different charity organizations come to us for challenge coins that we couldn’t write about all of them even if we had the time. One thing that remains true for a lot of the organizations we work with is that they often tend to be organizations focused on making life better for Veterans. With so many charities dedicated to the same community, how you go about making your organization special can sometimes be a more difficult conversation. Luckily, Glen Brynteson and the team at TrainOurTroops has got the question of originality covered.
In a world where many people have Support Our Troops bumper stickers, it’s refreshing to find an organization going so far to live the idea on a daily basis. Recognizing a specific need, Brynteson decided to start an organization dedicated to giving veterans the training they need to enter the civilian workforce after they leave the service. With so many organizations out there with a focus on taking care of veterans, feeding veterans, and looking after veterans’ mental health, Brynteson has focused on making sure these brave men and women have the tools needed to take care of themselves in the long run.
All of the training provided by TrainOurTroops is offered free of charge to the veterans and their spouses who wish to make use of it. By the end of a course, the participants are considered to be Subject Matter Experts, and are ready to add the new skill set to their resume and pursue jobs which make use of the skills they’ve just mastered. In order to keep their services free, TrainOurTroops partners with a number of different corporations who see the value in what they’re doing. They also thrive on donations. One of the interesting things about the organization’s use of challenge coins is that unlike many nonprofits making use of coins, TrainOurTroops doesn’t use its coins for fundraising purposes. Instead, they allow their coins to continue the great work they do, and as a way to harken back to the organization’s unique origins.
One of the more interesting things about TrainOurTroops is that the organization got its start, in part, because Brynteson was given a challenge coin by a veteran. As the story goes, Brynteson was attending a conference, setting up a booth to talk about their advanced training solutions, when he was approached by Ron Sable, a veteran with three deployments under his belt.
The two of them had a long conversation that overshadowed everything else from that day. They shared their personal experiences and history with the armed forces (Brynteson’s father served for 40 years), and they talked about the struggles, both personal and perceived, that veterans face when they leave the service.
After hours of talking, Sable presented Brynteson with a challenge coin he’d received during his time in the military. Telling the entrepreneur, "In the Green Beret, we got customized challenge coins for our service and we are supposed to give a challenge coin to someone who pivots our lives in a positive way. I just want to thank you for taking the time to help guide me in my career. You turned down having conversations with prospects in order to continue to converse with me. I would like you to accept my first coin. What you told me tonight, and the time you spent with me, is going to change my life."
In truth, the encounter changed both of their lives forever. Brynteson was so touched by Sable’s gesture that he took the challenge coin home and immediately told his wife about the encounter and his new idea for TrainOurTroops. Once he got the organization up and running, he even brought Sable on to serve as an advisor.
Challenge coins play a strong role in a number of different organizations, as we’ve pointed out, but it’s a unique experience when the presentation of a challenge coin, at least in part, is the basis for the organization. With an origin story like that, it’s not surprising that challenge coins are an important part of what TrainOurTroops does.
When it came time to decide on challenge coins to hand out to the veterans and their spouses who register for the TrainOurTroops program, Brynteson came up with yet another unique idea. Instead of simply giving out challenge coins and allowing it to end there, he wanted to give people the same kind of powerful experience he received when he was given a challenge coin.
To those ends, Brynteson has created a challenge coin series. The front face of the coins remains the same, but the back face is given over to drawing attention to the many corporate sponsors and donors who make TrainOurTroops possible. But the special thing about these coins can be found on their true edges.
Each coin is engraved with a specific number unique to that coin. When someone receives a coin, they’re instructed to go onto the TrainOurTroops website to register the coin with its unique number. From there, they can take the coin on adventures, and share their specific stories. When the time is right, they give the coin to another veteran or someone special, and that person adds to the overall story of the coin. The best part is that each person who touches the coin can register online and follow the journey of the coin and the acts of kindness that caused it to change hands.
Seeing different challenge coin programs is one of our favorite things about being in this business. And being able to create great coins for an organization like TrainOurTroops, which is solely focused on doing good, is something we take great amounts of pride in. If you’re interested in learning more about TrainOurTroops and how you can help, visit their website. And keep an eye out, one day you might receive one of their unique challenge coins in return for making a positive impact on someone else’s life.