Published in the April 6, 2017 edition

By Bill Laforme

NORTH READING – The town’s Veterans Services office hopes to begin offering “challenge coins” to graduating high school seniors who enlist in the military.

Speaking at Monday night’s selectmen’s meeting, Director of Veterans Services Sue Magner said that she is seeking a $500 line item in her coming budget to acquire a number of challenge coins representing all five branches of the military service. The coins, which have yet to be completely designed, would also incorporate the town’s name.

Magner told selectmen that at this time, Chicopee is the only other town in Massachusetts offering such coins to new enlistees. “Its like with everything else,” said Magner. “Everything starts somewhere.”

In a follow up conversation with the Transcript, Magner said that the price of an individual challenge coin can be as high as $25, but the veterans services representative in Chicopee was apparently able to acquire them for just over $4 with a $2,600 expenditure.

The coins would also have no year imprinted upon them so that they could be used from year to year.

It remains to be seen when during the school year the coins would be presented. Magner told selectmen Monday night that a special ceremony could be held for the enlistees at graduation or at the annual senior awards night. Magner also noted that she would like to see new military recruits get the same level of recognition as students who earn scholarships. She also noted that distributing the challenge coins to new recruits will make it easier to keep track of who the town’s veterans are in the coming years.