A challenge coin is a small coin or medallion issued by any number of public or private organizations but most frequently associated with branches of the military. It usually features an organization’s emblem, insignia, icon, symbol, or mascot.
Organization members are unofficially “required” to have one on their persons in case they are “challenged” (hence the name). The individual with a coin from a more significant giver is considered the winner of the challenge. The challenge and its resolution tend to be ritualized in a military setting but similar formalities exist in civilian organizations, such as law enforcement.
In the military, challenge coins are often handed out by high ranking officers and Sergeant Majors–typically at a battalion level or higher–and given to soldiers that either work on a special detail (like serving as a general’s driver) or have been recognized for their actions by a medal holder.
They are also sold through various channels as souvenirs.
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