What is a Challenge Coin and What Do They Represent?
You’re at a military ceremony. A soldier is being honored for service above and beyond the call of duty. As he approaches the unit commander to receive his award, he salutes and then reaches out to shake hands.
In the unit commander’s palm, before he clasps hands, you notice a glint of metal. Wondering what that is? Well, you’ve seen your first challenge coin.
What is a challenge coin? I’m glad you asked.
What is a Challenge Coin?
The simple answer is this: A challenge coin is a specially designed coin. It’s given to someone to confirm membership in an organization or group. A challenge coin can also honor a person for a special achievement.
Challenge coins are small, metal coins that fit in the palm of your hand. They are made of metal. Each challenge coin has a unique design that belongs to the organization it represents.
The emblem or insignia of the organization is etched directly into the coin. The organization’s motto can be engraved around the edge of the coin. They can have colored enamel painted into the etching, depending on the unique design.
Though they are usually round, some challenge coins come in other shapes. Special designs even include cutouts or unique features, like a bottle opener tool.
Challenge coins are made out of a variety of metals. Some are made of zinc, bronze, and brass. Other more expensive versions even include 24-carat gold.
What Does a Challenge Coin Represent?
Challenge coins represent organizations, units, and teams. They can also represent an achievement, an anniversary or a special event. They build close-knit, lasting bonds between people who receive them and represent unity.
They have a long-standing tradition in military history. But the military isn’t the only service that uses them. First responder services also have a history of using challenge coins, too.
Civilian groups are starting to use challenge coins to represent accomplishments in their businesses. This is a new way to represent challenge coins. They are using them to build morale in teams, link people with similar interests and even to promote their brand.
Military Challenge Coins
There are many traditional challenge coins that represent each of the military branches, individual units, special groups and even specific missions. Military leaders can have their own coins, too. Top generals and the President of the United States have their own special challenge coins.
Service members are known to develop large collections of challenge coins during their time in the military. They feel pride and a sense of belonging when they display their various coins.
First Responders Challenge Coins
Like the military, first responders use challenge coins to honor service. Law enforcement agencies and firefighters use challenge coins to honor special accomplishments in the line of duty.
Government agencies and politicians are using challenge coins to recognize first responders in their communities. This creates a sense of honor and unity during a time of tragedy and loss.
What is the Purpose of a Challenge Coin?
The purpose of a challenge coin depends on why it was made in the first place. It can be used for membership, recognition, to create a bond between people in a group or to commemorate an anniversary or special event.
In the military, challenge coins are proof that you are a member of a unit or served on a specific tour of duty. They mean you are a member of an elite group of people.
In early military history, they were used for security. A service member may have been required to show the coin to prove their loyalty. That may not be necessary today, but being a member of the team is still a strong military tradition.
Awards and Recognition
Challenge coins are used to award team members who perform their duties extremely well. Giving a coin as a reward for excellent performance builds pride and morale. Receiving one is a great honor and team members work hard to get them.
Creates Bonds and Connections
The challenge coin tradition keeps members of the military connected to one another, even after they leave the service. Veterans frequently display coins from units they have served in, missions they have been on and leaders they have met. First responders receive coins for heroic efforts during times of tragedy.
Challenge coins pay tribute to events that members of an organization endured together and create a bond that will last a lifetime.
More recently, challenge coins have been used to identify a corporate brand or logo. Corporations are beginning to hand these out at conferences, sales events, and trade shows. A challenge coin is certainly more memorable than a business card.
Even schools and sports teams are jumping on the bandwagon. Mascots and logos are being put on coins to hand out at local events in communities.
Where to Get a Challenge Coin
What is a challenge coin? It’s a great way to recognize an individual, a team or bring meaning to an event or accomplishment. They create lasting bonds between team members and encourage hard work.
Challenge coins make great gifts that are memorable and unique. Whether you want to honor a service member, a first responder or a valuable team member, challenge coins make the moment special and memorable.