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How a US Army Tradition Became Part of the LANAP Training Experience

By Marty Klein, IALD Training Manager on March 20, 2016 in Training

A US Army Tradition

blog-fellowship-coin-dr-greggDuring conversations with the US Army about training enlisted periodontists to become certified to treat patients using the LANAP® protocol, MDT co-Founder Robert Gregg, DDS and Training Director Dawn Gregg, DDS toured the Tingay Dental Clinic at Fort Gordon in Augusta, GA. At the conclusion, COL Frederick Bisch, DMD, MS let them in on a special tradition and presented them with something very few civilians receive: a US Army Challenge Coin.

What is a Challenge Coin?

According to military tradition, challenge coins are normally presented by unit commanders in recognition of a special achievement by a member (or members) of the unit.

Though the Romans are thought to have rewarded soldiers with coins, the most common version of the origin of these coins dates back to World War I. In one squadron, a wealthy lieutenant ordered medallions struck in solid bronze and presented them to his unit. One young pilot placed the medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore about his neck. Shortly after acquiring the medallion, the pilots’ aircraft was severely damaged; he was forced to land behind enemy lines and was immediately captured by a German patrol. In order to discourage his escape, the Germans took all of his personal identification except for the small leather pouch around his neck. Later, he showed the medallion to his would-be executioners and one of his captors recognized the squadron insignia on the medallion. They delayed his execution long enough for him to confirm his identity. Instead of shooting him, they gave him a bottle of wine! Back at his squadron, it became tradition to ensure that all members carried their medallion or coin at all times. And so the tradition continued, with “challenge coins” being given to individuals or entire units for acts of bravery or to recognize an important event or mission.

Today, the “challenge” part comes in when, at any time, an individual may initiate a “coin check” to another individual or group. If the challenged party is able to produce their coin from on their person or within 3 steps, the challenger must buy a round of drinks, dessert, etc. If the challenged party cannot produce the coin, the round of drinks is on them!

Fellowship CoinThe IALD Fellowship Coin

Heading back to headquarters in Cerritos, CA, Drs. Gregg thought more about the concept of a challenge coin and the rich history behind it. They decided to create a LANAP “Fellowship Coin” as an homage to the military tradition. The coin, about an inch and a half in diameter, would have logos and symbols representing Millennium Dental on one side, and logos and symbols representing the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry on the other. In other words, one side represents the device – the PerioLase® MVP-7™ — and the other side represents the LANAP protocol and the science, research, and training associated with it.

And so it was done. The prestigious coin is given only to LANAP clinicians who have completed their Evolution 5 training, and thus the entire LANAP training continuum. The coin – and its associated rules – are given to clinicians at the Evolution 5 fellowship dinner in a handshake by one of Drs. Gregg. LANAP-trained clinicians who completed Evolution 5 prior to the coins’ inception can receive theirs at our annual LANAP Study Club, held the day before the AAP Annual Meeting in the fall of each year.

Recipients know to keep their coin with them whenever they might be around another LANAP clinician. One never knows when they’ll be challenged!

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