Common Questions Asked About the Commander’s Coin

Challenge coins are a huge tradition in the military. But many people are still unsure of the commander’s coin tradition. Here are common questions asked.
Civilians may not be familiar with challenge coins, but their tradition is well-known throughout the military, and by many United States firefighters and law enforcement departments, as well. For servicemen and women, a commander’s coin carries a significant meaning. While, for the rest of us, it’s a custom that’s often shrouded in mystery.

 

 

The most widely-accepted version of its’ beginnings dates back to World War I when an American fighter pilot was captured and traded his own cherished medallion for personal freedom.

Whether that’s truly where the challenge coin got its’ start may still be a subject of debate, the fact remains that today, these coins are a widespread symbol of honor among those who serve today.

Even the presidents have come to know and love the passing down of challenge coins, with each recent leader having his own uniquely-designed relic to share.

Still, the tradition tends to conjure up a long list of questions, both by those who take part in the custom and by onlookers, alike.

Read on to learn the answers to many of the most common questions surrounding the long-lived mysterious commander’s coin.

1. How Did the Challenge Coin Originate?

One of the stories accepted by many is the one that’s mentioned above.

After a WWI serviceman received a coin from his well-to-do superior, he was captured and escaped with little other than the shiny medallion he wore around his neck. A short time later he was captured by the French military, who mistook him as a German soldier-turned-spy. He regained his freedom only after he presented the challenge coin to his captors, proving that he was indeed an ally and not the enemy that they first believed him to be.

In an alternate version of facts, the coin’s introduction to the military has roots dating back to Ancient Rome. Rumor has it that men were often given coins to reward them for a day of hard work on the battlefield.

2. Who Was the First President to Mint His Own Commander’s Coin?

The traditional presidential challenge coin first began with President Bill Clinton. It has been followed by each president that has taken office since, including Presidents George Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Vice President Dick Cheney was the first VPOTUS to claim a uniquely designed coin made just for him. And, Vice President Joe Biden coined three different varieties of the personally-stamped coins.

Historically, the presidents of the United States and their vice presidents have reserved their medallions only for members of the armed forces, or for other supporters of the nation. Honorees have also included rare foreign dignitaries and the family members of those who have served our country.

3. How Are the Coins Typically Used Today?

Today, challenge coins are often presented to members of the military and throughout other U.S.-supporting police and fire departments. They serve as a way to commemorate one’s pledge to serve their country. And, they are also given to award various missions accomplished by said servicemen and women.

It’s common for a member who has served for many years to possess a collection of many different challenge coins, each representing a specific honor or milestone throughout their career.

4. What Is a “Coin Check”?

A “coin check” is a common practice among battalions and departments. It occurs when an officer or another superior declares “Coin check!” and all of the practicing members in attendance must present their coins ‘on-the-spot’.

The last member to show their coin often has to buy the others a beer. Or, they might offer another similar form of debt repayment to their faster-moving military brothers and sisters.

These “on-the-spot” coin checks, as they are often called, are popular among Veterans, both past and present. Although it’s a custom mostly taken in fun, the groups of men and women who have served take their roles very seriously. Owning a challenge coin is an honor that they carry with pride.

5. Should Civilians Take Part in the Trading of Challenge Coins?

Although it may have happened before, it’s not “the norm” for civilians to trade these coins for fun, or even to symbolize a special event or occasion.

Military challenge coins are a tradition that the members of service prefer to keep private.

It’s possible for civilians to “gift” the coins to non-military. But, this practice should only be reserved for certain special occasions.

That said, there are other variations of commemorative medallions that are often given to civilians. And, these coins are similar to those passed along through the military.

They might be presented to honorary civilian recipients for their graduation or other special occasions. Still, while similar in appearance, these aren’t the same challenge coins like those that hold the traditional meaning for military and service members.

Where Can You Learn More About Challenge Coins?

If you’re intrigued by the history of the commander’s coin, you might have an interest in visiting our site to find out more about this beloved military tradition. And, if you’re a member of the armed services yourself, you might even want to place an order for your own set of custom challenge coins.
We would love to help you find the coin that you’re looking for.

Visit our website today to place an order for your own challenge coins and be a part of the long-standing tradition of this honorable and precious token of appreciation!

When Is It Appropriate To Give A Custom Challenge Coin?

Want to give away your own coins or award custom challenge coins? Learn about when it’s appropriate to bestow such an honor.

Custom challenge coins have a long history in the United States.

Once relegated to the military as a reward for a service member’s hard work, these coins are becoming popular items to award to employees for good work.

Challenge coins come in many forms and have impacted many different aspects of the service industry. Fire departments, the police, fraternal organizations like the Masons and even costuming organizations like the 501st Legion use coins to boost morale and congratulate members.

These coins can be a comfort for the recipients. And their families.

One of the hardest parts about custom challenge coins though is finding the right way and time to award these coins to your employees or members.

Custom Challenge Coins Reward Work Well Done

Being recognized for your hard work is a great feeling and 70% of surveyed employees believe their work being meaningfully recognized “had no dollar value.”

Employees are motivated and engaged when they are praised for work well done.

One way to recognize your employees for the hard work they do for you is by presenting custom challenge coins. Coins created for well-performing employees gives your team a goal to work towards. And something to memorialize the completion of a complicated project.

Keeping your employees engaged and boosting their morale is a great reason to have a challenge coin in your back pocket.

Challenge Coins Boost Morale

The origins of custom challenge coins are rooted solidly in our military’s history.

Service men and women have been awarded custom coins for decades now. And these coins are often considered parts of the identities of their owners.

Coins were often handed out as praise for exemplary service. But they’re also a solid, physical source of morale boosting. These coins help teams bond. You don’t have to be on the workforce to suffer from low morale when a project isn’t going to plan.

Many businesses are adopting the military’s method of praise and reward. Coins don’t have to be presented during a large ceremony. Improving your business’s overall morale can be as simple as handing the coin off with a handshake.

Commemorate a Special Moment in Time

Challenge coins are used to commemorate a special moment or achievement. They are a physical reminder of a milestone a person has been striving towards for a while.

There are many organizations that use custom coins. Or chips.

Alcoholics Anonymous Chips

Many temperance organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous have used custom coins to commemorate certain events. Or achievements. Sobriety coins are a great example of customized coins even though the AA logo is not allowed to be used on the medallion.

These coins or chips may not be official AA items but they are still presented at meetings. They are a very important part of the sobriety organization. And a physical reminder of the recipient’s important sobriety milestones.

The “chip system” has been around since 1942 and some believe it was started in Indianapolis. There are many kinds of coins. There can be 24 hour medals. And months ranging from 1-11 or 1-65.

These chips or coins are a “celebration of time” that recipients have taken part in the AA culture. Even though the coins are not officially part of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Police and Fire Coins

Challenge coins have long been popular with military servicemen. This tradition has continued on with many of them leaving the military and joining services like the police force.

Law enforcement challenge coins are morale boosters for police officers and their units. These coins are not presented in the ceremony. Often they are handed off by a unit commander with a simple handshake.

These coins are used to commemorate events and projects. And often times bind units together.

Fire departments also have commemorative challenge coins. These coins help recognize selfless service fire-fighters exhibit. Their dedication to service should be rewarded.

Custom challenge coins are a great way to commemorate the pride our community has in our law enforcement and civil servants.

Other Organizations

Challenge coins are popular among the military but they have seen an increasing popularity among other civilian organizations.

The 501st Legion Coin

An example of this is the 501st Legion. The 501st is a charity organization that has been around since 1997. This group recreates screen accurate costumes that members then wear to raise money for charity organizations like Make-A-Wish.

The original founding members are all veterans. They have served in the Marines and the National Guard and when they were creating the Legion they wanted to find a way to commemorate their organization. And their service.

So the Legion Challenge Coins were born.

These coins are presented to new members in brief welcoming ceremonies. They are created when a new character is introduced to the franchise. They can commemorate events. And fundraising milestones.

Many members have hundreds of these coins. And they carry multiple coins with them to each event they go to.

They are traded fiercely and are one of the defining features of the charity organization.

The Boy Scouts Coins

The Boy Scouts is another example of a civilian organization that uses challenge coins to reward and commemorate.

These coins are awarded when scouts move up through the ranks. When a scout becomes an Eagle, parents will sometimes present them with custom coins during the ceremony as well.

These coins are usually quite collectible.

And are obviously cherished by their owners.

Public vs. Private Presentation

Most organizations opt for simple handoffs when it comes to presenting their challenge coins.

Many people do not like having attention called to them. Some servicemen say their coins were simply given to them after a handshake from their commanders. While most people like being praised for their work, the fanfare is not necessary for these particular prizes.

Bring Your Team Together with Unique Challenge Coins

Custom challenge coins are unique and can be used for a multitude of things.

Whether you wish to improve your employees’ morale or whether you simply wish to reward your team’s excellent work together, these coins make for a great prize for your company to present.

With our help, we can get you set up with a custom design that will last for a long time to come.