What’s the Purpose of the Prestigious Military Challenge Coin?

The military challenge coin has become one of the most prestigious military and first responder markers of rank and camaraderie.

Did you know that more than 20% of veterans who served in either Afghanistan or Iraq suffer from severe PTSD and/or depression? 

What about the fact that, when many veterans return from their service, they feel as if no one appreciates the sacrifices that they’ve made for their country? 

Whether you have a veteran in the family, or just wish you could do more to show our members of the military how much you appreciate what they’ve done, there is one simple act that means a lot: giving a military challenge coin

What are challenge coins, and how will they help to show appreciation — and support — for those who have served? 

Keep on reading to find out. 

A Brief History of Military Coins

Let’s quickly discuss how the concept of a military challenge coin came about in the first place. 

There are two main conflicting narratives surrounding the birth of challenge coins — and you can believe whichever one you would like.

The Wealthy Pilot

Some people think the tradition got started when a wealthy member of the American Air Force in World War One wanted to thank the men in his unit for serving alongside him. 

He had bronze coins created for each man in his unit so that they would always remember their time together. He wore his coin in a pouch around his neck, and it protected him and made him feel close to everyone who fought alongside him. 

Unfortunately, his plane was shot down, and he was captured by German soldiers. He escaped, but the Germans stole everything but the pouch around his neck, which they hadn’t noticed. 

While on the run, he came across some French soldiers, who assumed he was German and planned to shoot him. He then showed these French soldiers his medallion, which had the American insignia around his neck. 

His challenge coin saved his life. 

The Vietnam Challenge

Other people believe the tradition of U.S. Army challenge coins began much more recently, during the Vietnam War. 

One of a unit’s favorite ways to pass the time was to head to a local bar while on leave or at the end of the day. The goal was to be able to prove that you’d been in combat. In some cases, they would hold up enemy bullets in the bar. 

If anyone couldn’t prove that they’d served, as a way to say “thank you”, they’d need to buy all those that had served a drink. 

Soon, soldiers and veterans alike started making challenge coins, and the tradition evolved into the “coin check” challenge many of us are familiar with today. 

The Modern Meanings of a Military Challenge Coin

It goes without saying that the meaning of a challenge coin usually contains a sentiment that’s directly related to the history of the person receiving it.

There are challenge coins for all different branches of the armed forces, and there are even designs created to build camaraderie between those who have served in medical units in the army. 

In the past, challenge coins were mostly seen as a way to create a greater sense of belonging and teamwork within units. 

In today’s world, though, they’ve taken on an additional meaning — one that has saved countless lives. 

Mental Health and Challenge Coins

In addition to PTSD and depression, as well as any physical injuries sustained in combat, there’s another very real threat to the safety of veterans — suicide. 

Sadly, many vets don’t always have access to the mental health care they need to process the complex and often frightening emotions that living in dangerous situations — and seeing difficult traumatic events — causes. Some cannot cope, and opt to take their own lives. 

We know that you’ll do anything to stop a veteran — whether or not they’re a member of your family or friend — from doing this. 

While it’s important to familiarize yourself with the signs that someone might be suicidal, there is something else you can also do. 

Many people give veterans challenge coins to help ease the transition back into civilian life. These gifts for veterans carry an especially beautiful meaning. They let the veteran know that, should they ever need to talk or ask for help, you’ll be there for them. 

They don’t need to do anything more than simply slide their coin across the table to you, or show it to you. When they do, you’ll be ready to listen to what they’re going through. If they need immediate help, giving someone a coin means that you are ready to be the person they rely on. 

It’s a powerful and life-saving gift.

Are You Looking to Buy Challenge Coins Online? 

We hope that this post has helped you to better understand the meaning and prestige behind the idea of the military challenge coin. 

Whether your goal is to tell a soldier that you’re always willing to listen to them, or if you want to build friendships in your unit, a challenge coin always makes a great gift. 

Remember that these coins aren’t exclusively reserved for members of the military. They also make wonderful gifts for members of the police force, firemen and women, and others who help to protect and serve our country and communities. 

Additionally, they’re wonderful ways to promote a brand or even build teamwork among your employees. 

Spend some time browsing through our gallery of custom and pre-made challenge coins, and consider ordering some for the people you care about. 

Challenge Coin Discount – Thankful for Upgrades in November

** Promotion Expired**Challenge Coin DiscountChallenge Coin Discount – Thankful for Upgrades

For the entire month of November we are offering a free upgrade when you order 100 or more custom challenge coins.  We are thankful for our customers, which is why this thankful November we want to say thank you with a free upgrade!

Choose between:

a. Free upgrade to Antique nickel, brass, gold, silver, copper, and bronze.

B. Edge upgrade to Oblique line, Bevel, Bevel Diamond, and Cross Cut.

C. Packaging: Free upgrade from PVC to velvet bags.

***for the antique finishes that they aren’t available with hard enamel coins.

Check back often for other challenge coin discounts! And remember, we offer free shipping and free artwork from our talented artists. We are here to help!

Learn more about us here. Thank you for considering custom challenge coins!

Fill out our free online quote to receive this challenge coin discount! Mention “Thankful for Upgrades!

 

The History and Rules of the Challenge Coin

The challenge coin is something few people know about, but those who do, these coins are very symbolic and meaningful. Learn more about the history of challenge coins and the rules of giving/receiving them in our article.

Never heard of a challenge coin? Don’t worry — you’re not the only one. The reality, though, is that the challenge coin has a long and intriguing history.

Although the challenge coin is something that few people know about, these coins are very symbolic and meaningful among those who have received them.

Here’s a glimpse at the history of the challenge coin and at the rules you’ll need to follow when giving and receiving them.

Let’s get started!

The Purpose and Appearance of a Challenge Coin

Many traditions have helped to build camaraderie among military personnel over the years. However, carrying challenge coins is one of the most well-respected ones. And today, they aren’t restricted to the military (even though they largely remain a mystery among those who are not in the armed forces).

Challenge coins are essentially small tokens or medallions that signify that people are members of certain organizations.

The diameters of challenge coins are usually between 1.5 and 2 inches, and these coins are typically around 1/10 inch thick. However, their sizes and styles vary greatly. Some may even take the shapes of dog tags, arrowheads, pentagons, and shields.

Challenge coins are usually made of nickel, copper or pewter and feature various finishes. Some feature simple designs, whereas others have more elaborate designs and highlights.

The Coin’s Origination

It’s not completely clear exactly where and why the challenge coin tradition began. However, we do know that military service and coins go back much farther than the modern age — possibly as far back as Ancient Rome.

In Rome, if soldiers excelled in battle one day, they would receive their typical day’s wages along with a separate bonus coin each. According to some accounts, these bonus coins were specially minted, featuring the marks of the legions from which they came. As a result, some soldiers apparently kept their coins as mementos, instead of spending them on wine and women.

These types of coins are still handed out today to reward people for jobs well done, particularly in the military. However, some administrators treat them much like autographs and business cards that they can store in their own collections.

Still, some soldiers use challenge coins today as identification badges proving that they served in certain units. Meanwhile, other challenge coins are distributed to the civilian population for publicity purposes or are sold as fundraising tools.

Possibly the First Challenge Coin

Another well-known story about the emergence of the challenge coin dates back to the First World War. At that time, a rich officer gave his men bronze medallions featuring the insignia of their flying squadron. Not long after that, a young flying ace was shot down and captured.

Germans are said to have removed everything from the ace’s person except for a pouch he was wearing — one that held his medallion. After he escaped to France, he was sentenced to die, as the French labeled him a spy. However, the ace presented his medallion as proof of his identity.

Because one of the French soldiers recognized the insignia, France delayed the ace’s execution. After his identity was confirmed, the ace was returned to his flying unit.

Later, holes were drilled in these types of medallions so that military men could place them around the neck rather than inside leather pouches.

The Challenge

So, where exactly does the “challenge” idea come from?

According to some stories, “the challenge” started after the Second World War in Germany. Americans stationed in Germany began to conduct “pfennig checks,” or checks for this low-denomination German coin. If you couldn’t produce a pfennig when someone else called a check, you had to buy the beers.

The pfennig check later evolved to a unit medallion check, with unit members challenging one another by slamming their medallions down on a bar. Any member who lacked his medallion had to purchase drinks for everyone else who had their coins. Meanwhile, if everyone could present a medallion, the challenger was the one who had to buy the drinks.

The same essentially applies today.

However, instead of firmly placing your challenge coin on the bar to initiate a coin check, you can raise your coin in the air and shout that you’re initiating a check. You could also accidentally initiate a check if you inadvertently drop your challenge coin.

In addition, to succeed in a challenge, you must have your challenge coin within arm’s length from you. If you don’t, well — tough luck.

Now, naturally, you may refuse to buy drinks for everyone if you end up losing the challenge. Note, however, that this is a detestable crime — one that may require you to return your coin to the agency that issued it to you.

And another thing: Challenge coin checks are allowed anytime and anyplace. So, be prepared.

Coins Today

If you receive a challenge coin today, you’ll likely get it via a secret handshake. This isn’t always the case, but it is a tradition upheld by many.

You can receive a challenge coin by being a part of a police department or fire department or by being involved with the Boy Scouts or the Lions Club, for example. The challenge coin has become a highly collectible and long-lasting way for people to show their allegiance anyplace and anytime.

How We Can Help

We offer high-quality, prestigious and custom-made coins for your organization. We are confident you will not find better craftsmanship anywhere else.

Our designers can use your emblems and colors to highlight the achievements and occasion you are interested in recognizing. Then, you’ll be able to review a proof showing you how your coin will look. If you see anything you don’t like, you can easily make the necessary changes to get your coin perfect.

You can expect your newly minted coins to show every detail of your design. And all of our products are individually packaged and shipped at no cost.

Get in touch with us today to find out more about the challenge coin and how we can deliver the perfect custom coins to you this year. Just fill out the price quote below to begin the process for your next custom challenge coin!

 

 

8 Designs You Can Create for Your Custom Commemorative Coins

How to Design Custom Commemorative Coins

Have you thought about the perfect design for your custom commemorative coins? Before you make a decision take a look at these excellent designs!

Looking for memorable designs for your custom commemorative coins?

Whether you need a unique emblem, a catchy bar challenge coin, or a serious memorial coin to boost the morale of your unit, a well-designed custom coin can help your organization.

Read on to find out some popular and interesting custom coin ideas to inspire you for your own creations!

1) Bar Coin Challenge Coins

custom challenge coinsMilitary challenge coins are meant to be carried and displayed with pride. If you aim to award your unit with coins they can use in bar coin challenges, then the coins should really stand out.

The challenge coin check is a popular game among servicemen. It’s played as follows.

One service member challenges another, or a whole group, to present their challenge coins. If the challenged party doesn’t have their coins with them, they must buy the challenger a drink. If everyone in the challenged party has their coins, the challenger has to buy everyone a round of drinks!

Bar challenge coins are a simple, funny, and a great way to build strong bonds among team members who have achieved a noteworthy goal. To be effective, you have to make the bar challenge coins small so they can be carried with convenience, but also catchy enough for servicemen to share a drink over their design.

2) Memorial Coins

challenge coinMemorial coins serve the original purpose of challenge coins. They remind servicemen of those who served before them, and of those who fought and fell bravely in the field.

These military coins are almost always serious and sometimes even somber. Their design is austere and invokes feelings of national pride. They boast flags, national symbols, and unit insignia.

For example, the Silent Service issues submariner memorial coins that list the hull number of every submarine that was lost defending the nation. There are many modern memorial coins that commemorate the US War of Independence, as well as the first and second world wars.

Memorial coins can also be used for police and firefighter units.

3) Animal Themed Coins

animal challenge coinAnimal themed coins are very popular among military units. They depart from the usual round design and boast all sorts of interesting shapes and colors.

Some of the most popular animal themed coin designs include coins in the shape of snakes, panthers, lions, bats, sharks, and eagles. Special operation units often issue coins that depict stealthy animals, or animals known for their ferocious ability in combat. Most recently, many units have started issuing batman-themed challenge coins in the shape of a bat.

The Naval Air Warfare Center in Orlando has issued a Mickey Mouse-shaped challenge coin that depicts submarines, destroyers, and aircraft carriers, but alludes to Disneyland, which is next to the center.

4) Wearable Coins

 

Sometimes commemorative coins don’t have to resemble a coin at all! Many units and companies create custom coins that can be worn. For example, belt buckle and dog tag coins are very popular and can really grab attention.

Both belt buckle and dog tag coins can also be used easily as bar challenge coins, because they are easy to carry and equally easy to present at a moment’s notice.

Necklace coins are less popular, because they are often made to resemble jewelry, but can be a good choice depending on whom are you awarding them to.

5) Key Chain Coins

Key chain coins are simply coins with an attachable chain. This gives them the added usability doubling as key chains. This smart design is easy to implement and costs next to nothing.

The only downside to key chain commemorative coins is that they tend to weigh a person’s key chain, especially if they have more than one. Also, the extra chain becomes a nuisance for people who don’t intend to use the coin as a key chain.

6) Usable Tiny Tool Coins

bottle opener challenge coin

One of the coolest design ideas, usable coins double as actual tools! Many mechanical units issue coins that resemble rulers, wrenches, combo spanners and even screwdrivers of tiny proportions.

These tools are all usable and can actually come in handy in the everyday lives of those who carry them.

Another very popular tool design is the bottle opener coin. You know you need a bottle opener when you’re going out, and these coins make for excellent bar challenge coins.

7) Vehicle-Shaped Coins

Naval and aerial units tend to spend a lot of time inside specific vehicles. Whether it’s a helicopter, a carrier plane or a destroyer ship, you get to practically live inside these vehicles for dozens of hours each month.

A vehicle-shaped coin will remind servicemen of the ship they serve on, and carrying one around is a great way to strike a conversation with other servicemen.

8) Funny Coins

challenge coin customNot all commemorative coins have to be serious to be unique. Seasonal coins, joke coins, and even plain silly coins are a great choice to lighten up the atmosphere or add a tone of color in your unit.

Servicemen leaving a long deployment are often awarded a South Park-themed coin that reads: “SCREW YOU GUYS. I’M GOING HOME!”, and many units feature their own inside jokes on their challenge coins.

Finding the Perfect Custom Commemorative Coins

So, are you looking for top quality custom coins? Check out Custom Challenge Coins, your one-stop-shop for an exhaustive array of custom commemorative coins.

With fifteen years of experience in the field, we develop some of the best custom coin designs in the world, featuring unique artwork and top-tier craftsmanship.

If you’re out of ideas, the experts at Custom Challenge Coins will help you get the design your unit deserves, and ship the coins to you free of charge with reputable courier services.