Last year, a VA study was published that shook the military world to its core: about 22 veterans commit suicide every single day.
There are countless reasons for the mental health issues plaguing our brave service men and women. The high veteran unemployment rate, the trauma they experienced on duty, or even the depression brought on by life-altering injuries.
However, one sobering fact remains: veterans are just not getting the care and support they need.
So, what can you do to help? Believe it or not, the secret lies in challenge and custom coins. Read on to learn more about these powerful suicide prevention tools.
What Are These Custom Coins?
In a nutshell, these custom coins (also called “challenge coins”) are made of various types of metal and can be customized to fit a veteran’s specific line of duty/deployment history.
The coins are meant to be carried around in a pocket or wallet, serving as a constant reminder to veterans that they are not alone. The more service men and women that have these coins, the larger and stronger the bond between veterans grows.
Though there are countless different types of coins for veterans, one of the most popular options is the specific suicide prevention coin. The coins often show the American flag surrounded by a band of yellow (the color of suicide prevention.) Around the edges of the coin are telephone numbers for suicide prevention hotlines, popular suicide prevention hashtags, and more.
They also ask veterans to “Tell Their Stories,” and reminded others to listen. This message encourages them to open up to those around them and ask for help when needed.
Originally, the coins grew out of the popular “22 challenge,” which asked people to do 22 of something for a veteran in honor of the 22 vets that take their own lives each day.
At the start, the coins were given to police officers, who would then hand them out to veterans. The custom coins are now a popular gift anyone can give to veterans.
How These Coins Help Prevent Suicide
There are many ways in which these special custom coins help to stop veteran suicide. Let’s take a look at a few of the most effective ways now.
The best thing about these custom coins? They can go anywhere the veteran does. While it can be difficult to remember a phone number — and even harder to ask for help — looking at the coin is simple.
Plus, even having something physical to hold onto in difficult moments can help a veteran to stay strong.
Best of all, this convenience takes the shame that some veterans may feel out of asking for help. Many may not want to admit they’re struggling, while others may view asking for help as a sign of weakness.
So, whenever a veteran needs help, all they have to do is show or hand the coin to a police officer or someone they trust. The other person will know exactly what it means, and can either call for help or sit down and listen to the veteran.
They Promote The Veteran Community
Sometimes, veterans just want to speak with and be around people who understand exactly what they’ve been through.
These coins serve as a reminder of the brotherhood and fraternity that the military creates. They help vets to stay strong not just for themselves, but for the other veterans out there.
They also make it easy for vets to find one another, and to listen and share their own stories with each other.
They Make The Transition Home Easier
When many veterans come home from the front, they face serious discrimination.
People may not understand that they were simply following the line of duty, whether or not they agreed with what they were being asked to carry out. Vietnam veterans, in particular, faced terrible discrimination when they returned home.
Younger veterans often find it difficult to adjust back to civilian life. When they return home, they’re expected to immediately jump back into the “real” world.
But often, that transition can be difficult and overwhelming. There’s a serious disconnect between the life they lived on duty and the life they live at home with their families.
These custom coins help to build a bridge between those two worlds and even remind other family members to assist in making the transition as easy as possible.
They Prove You Haven’t Forgotten Them
Perhaps one of the most important aspects of these custom coins is that they show veterans that their service and sacrifice has not been — and will never be — forgotten.
Too often, veterans feel as though they’ve been overlooked by everyone around them, or even seen as a burden.
Giving a veteran a custom coin helps to remind them that you’re grateful for their service — even if they served many years ago.
This feeling of being appreciated is invaluable and goes a long way in preventing veteran suicide.
Where Can You Get Your Own Challenge Coins?
Challenge coins make wonderful and meaningful gifts for the veteran in your life.
They also communicate to the veteran that they can feel comfortable relying on you when they’re struggling or need mental health help.
Plus, buying 22 of these coins, and giving them out to police officers or other veterans you know, is the perfect way to show you care. It also helps to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health care, which can save lives.
When you’re ready to buy your own custom coins, spend some time on our website to see what we offer.
You can even design your own coin, with a personalized or unique message. Get in touch with us today to receive a free quote.
Make a difference in the life of a veteran. Give them a challenge coin to remind them that they’re not alone.