The Meaning Behind Being Presented With A Challenge Coin

Jesse Daugherty

Jesse Daugherty

The Meaning Behind Being Presented With A Challenge Coin
Photo by: Rock Staar @ Unsplash

Challenge coins have become a time-honored tradition for soldiers in all branches of the U.S. military. While they remain a staple of the military, challenge coins have extended in the civilian world, used by businesses, schools, nonprofit organizations, and others. 

A challenge coin in the military is often a  form of recognition bestowed on those who deserve praise. They are presented as commemorative tokens for special events, promotions, accomplishments, and other accolades. Challenge coins have a tradition that continues to this day, used to honor those who go above and beyond, whether in the military or in the corporate world.

Custom challenge coins are given for many reasons, such as merit, getting a promotion, or meeting a dignitary. They are also presented for extraordinary achievements and deeds. For military members, they are mementos of one's career. 

The Pride of Receiving a Challenge Coin

Receiving a challenge coin is an experience that creates a unique bond among  those who receive the same coin. Veterans are particularly proud of their coins, openly displaying their collections while sharing knowledge about each coin. Challenge coins help maintain bonds among those with a shared experience. Being given a challenge coin holds more weight than the coin itself. 

There are several common ways to acquire challenge coins. Military officials often present them to those who meet a high-ranking government official, attend a notable event, or as a way to celebrate a notable accomplishment. Companies present business coins to employees who work on special tasks, or as a commemoration of certain milestones such as years of service, or retirement. 

Military challenge coins are most often delivered through a secret handshake. An officer or high-ranking official palms the coin and secretly passes it to the recipient by way of the handshake. 

Civilian challenge coins, in contrast, are more commonly presented at open ceremonies. They can be presented at work assemblies, department meetings, even at public events to showcase recognition of those receiving them.

You can always create your own customs, presenting coins at unique events or in other memorable ways. Challenge coins may be small tokens, but they mean a lot to those who receive them.