FORT STEWART, Ga. — Since the implementation of social distancing across the Department of Defense, recognizing soldiers’ accomplishments has become more and more difficult. That hasn't slowed down Fort Stewart's top commander, who has continued to throw away thousands of dollars a month in coins of excellence.
Maj. Gen. Daniel Cummings has decided that throwing the coins at deserving soldiers is not only the safest method during the pandemic restrictions, but also because it speeds up the moment of recognition.
"Even though I'm happy I don't have to shake these dirty kids’ hands anymore, I still want to keep my good reputation with these peasants and make them think I care about the pointless details of what they're doing across my installation" said Maj. Gen. Cummings.
Before Cummings’ innovation, a typical recognition ceremony could take up to 30 minutes, but the general has shortened that down minutes or even seconds.
"It's pretty easy now: the general just has me pull up the van, open the door and yell 'HEADS UP' as he chucks the coin at the deserving individuals," says Capt. Joshua Moore, the general's aide. "How hard he throws the coin really just depends on his mood. If he's having a rough day, that coin could come at a pretty good velocity."
"It's all about stress management" said Cummings. "I haven't had a single complaint, because most these POGs are just happy to get a coin. It makes them feel special regardless of how hard it hits them"
Coins of excellence have long been a tradition of the military, even though they're mostly used by higher ranking officers to greet each other. But every now and then an officer will give them out as a symbol of achievement or recognition.
"We all know that coins are intended to be used to boost soldier's morale, but we usually just use them to impress other officers—it's like an internal pissing contest of who has the biggest and most expensive coin," says Capt. Moore. Commanders can spend upwards of five thousand dollars for an order of a thousand coins, which may last less than a year depending on how often that commander gives them out.
Safety officers across the installation have expressed their concern about the general's method of issuing coins, but so far there have been no major injuries to support those concerns.
"I keep trying to tell the him that he's going to get someone hurt, but every time I talk to him, he asks me where my PT belt is and then tells me to go make another meaningless holiday safety bulletin" said Tommy Hutton, Fort Stewart's senior safety officer.
"I just remind myself each time not to aim for the head, neck or groin areas. I played baseball at West Point, so my aim is still pretty good" said Cummings. "I'm not sure what I'll do when social distancing goes away, but hopefully I'll be retired by then because this way is just too fun" Cummings says.
Fort Stewart soldiers should continue to keep their head on a swivel for the foreseeable future, and if you hear someone scream "HEADS UP, ROCK OF THE MARNE," make sure you're ready to be coined.