The Brown County recorder wants to encourage veterans to make a permanent record of their certificates of release from active duty.
Recorder Sandy Cain is using discretionary funds to pay for challenge coins to be handed out to veterans who come to her office to record their DD form 214. The coins are on order and should be available within the next few weeks.
Challenge coins are a U.S. military tradition. Coins might be given out to all participants in a specific deployment or activity. They may also be given as an informal, individual award to recognize exceptional service.
Each coin is unique, often bearing the insignia and motto of a particular unit or the emblem of the person handing them out.
Service members commonly display their collection of coins in glass cases or may carry a particularly meaningful coin with them.
Every member of the U.S. military who has been discharged since 1950 was issued a DD form 214. Before 1950, the War Department and Department of the Navy issued separate certificates.
The DD form 214 details the person’s service record, promotions, awards, education and training, combat or overseas service and the character of discharge from service.
A certified copy is required to get many post-military services, such as benefits, a veteran’s license plate or state ID.
“It’s very important that they have those recorded, and a lot of people don’t,” Cain said.
Having the document recorded makes it a permanent record at the county recorder’s office. That insures the veteran’s record against accidental loss, Cain said.
Having it recorded can also help family members down the line who need evidence of a deceased family member’s service. Cain said she regularly has family members come in seeking copies of a deceased veteran’s records, only to find they were never recorded.
The process of recording a DD form 214 usually takes only five to 10 minutes, and there is no charge for it, Cain said. The veteran retains the original form.
There is also no charge for veterans or family members who request a certified copy of the DD form 214 in the future, Cain said.
Cain emphasized that having the form recorded does not make it public, and any information remains confidential.
“You have to be a family member or the person themself to get a copy of it,” she said.
Any veteran who has already recorded their certificate of discharge can also come to the recorder’s office on the lower level of the County Office Building to request a coin, Cain said.
Cain said she is working with the Brown County Chamber of Commerce to see if the coins can be integrated into its existing program of local merchant discounts for veterans.