The Lewis B. Puller, Jr., Veterans Benefits Clinic recently awarded its inaugural challenge coins to W&M Chancellor Professor of Law Fredric Lederer and Dr. Leticia Flores, director of Virginia Commonwealth University's Center for Psychological Services and Development, in recognition of their outstanding commitment to serving veterans. The coins were presented during the Law School's Veterans Day observance on Nov. 11.
Stacey Rae-Simcox, a 1999 graduate of the Law School, Army veteran, and the clinic's Managing Attorney, spoke about the military tradition of challenge coins at the event. The coins have their roots among veterans of the Civil War and the first World War, but were first formally minted during World War II and bear symbols and mottos unique to units within each service branch.
"Challenge coins aren't merely tokens," said Simcox. "They are a tangible source of pride of America's veterans at every level in the chain of command. Commanders use them as 'on the spot' awards in gratitude for a job well done."
The clinic's challenge coin, unveiled by Simcox, was created to recognize and to thank individuals who have demonstrated outstanding devotion to veterans. Designed by second-year law student Diana Cooper, the coin features the clinic's name and the William & Mary cipher on one side. The reverse side features a compass, symbolizing the clinic's commitment to helping veterans in need navigate the challenges they face after returning home. Circling the compass are the clinic's motto, "Serving Those Who Sacrificed," and its core values: "Selfless Service," "Professionalism," and "Heroism."
Under Dr. Flores's guidance, Simcox told the audience, "our clients have received the medical assessments and treatments that they need and the law students who work in our clinic always have someone to call when they run into a difficult medical issue." Flores, a psychologist, heads VCU's Center for Psychological Services and Development, which works in tandem with the Law School to serve veterans. Simcox credited Flores's "vision and energy" with helping to propel the clinic forward since its founding.
Fredric Lederer, a retired colonel in the Army's Judge Advocate General's Corps, is Chancellor Professor of Law at William & Mary and director of the Center for Legal and Court Technology. Professor Lederer, said Simcox, "has given time, money, energy, and resources to ensure the clinic's success and vitality. Because of his unwavering faith, we have been able to help more than 300 veterans in the past three years."