A challenge coin company is usually a small, metal medallion or coin, usually with the insignia of an association and carried by all the members of the organization. Historically, they may be awarded to show membership when challenging fellow members or to improve morale within the department. They are often collected by police officers and military personnel. These coins may be personalized with the name of the recipient, the branch of the military or the agency the person is serving in, the unit number or the name of the person giving the award.
In times past, challenge coins were actually made for the purpose of testing the man’s aptitude in battle. The coins were presented by a member of the raiding party to the individual they were challenging. If the person was able to prove their superiority to the raiding party, the coins were presented as a trophy to add to their honor and show off their skills. This practice has continued on into modern times and many military and law enforcement personnel still carry these coins as part of their honor and recognition. Often, these coins are also used as a means of identification for members of the military and other forces since they are usually made from very sturdy, durable metal.
The purpose of the Challenge Coin is not only to show the award recipient that they have been challenged in a particular category of competition, but it also serves to celebrate the group or agency they belong to as well. Since the coins are not trophies they do not have to be presented right away after the completion of the challenge to the challenger. The challenge coins are kept until the next round of drinks occurs at the seminar or club meeting. If the beverage host chooses to present the challenger with their coins right away, the challenger must wait until all of the other competitors have finished their drinks before they can receive their own.
The purpose of the Challenge Coin tradition has long been linked to a special forces unit. In the US Air Force, the rank order is based on the number of challenges that a soldier has received throughout their career. The process of ranking begins with the lowest ranked member being the “challenger” and each challenge earns them additional ranks. The highest ranking member within the Air Force is the “Champion”. All members are required to wear their Challenge Coins at all times during their career, except the champion, who may only wear their coin on certain occasions.
In the US Army, the tradition of wearing the coins began in World War II. They were given by an enlisted man who won the coin at a military fitness competition. The coins were not a real monetary award but rather a reward for his performance. Today, challenge coins are often exchanged between members of the armed forces for things like recognition, skill, physical strength, and leadership.
The tradition of wearing challenge coins has been carried on through the years. Today, many members of the armed forces choose to earn their Challenge Coins or their medallions by taking part in specific programs and events. Some soldiers choose to participate in challenge coin traditions to earn a silver star, which is displayed proudly on their chest. There are also several charities that help pay for the cost of military challenge coins, and the tradition continues to gain popularity each year.