The dog tag-style challenge coin is and remains a popular gift choice for active and nonactive American service members. These challenge coins are typically designed in the shape of a dog tag and are intended to be worn on a lanyard or chain around one’s neck, attached to a key ring, or simply placed in the pocket. One of the latest trends is to get a challenge coin with a built-in bottle opener, for those times when a challenge is issued by another challenge coin holder.
Dog tag challenge coins come in various shapes and styles, from the traditional military dog tag to oblong, octagonal, or hexagonal. When choosing a particular shape of challenge coin, a lot depends on what image the coin will bear and how the bearer chooses to display it. A horizontal design lends itself better to large, detailed images or pictures, while vertical designs work well because of their teardrop profile. Like traditionally shaped challenge coins, dog tag challenge coins can be customized with any number of images or designs.
The most popular designs are, of course, the branches of military service and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Service on the latter, in any capacity, carries a unique cache with it that sets these individuals apart even from their fellow service members. Beyond this, coins that commemorate service in a forward area or exotic locale, a particular campaign or battle, or a fallen comrade are also common choices. Designs that incorporate medals such as the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, or the Medal of Honor are more rare, but still not unusual among bearers or wearers of challenge coins.
The shape, form, type, and design of challenge coins are as varied and unique as the people that carry them, but they all serve the same purpose: to demonstrate their camaraderie and sense of unity with their brothers and sisters in arms, active or not, fallen or still carrying on. Many service members consider their challenge coins an indispensable part of their wardrobe, whether in any style of uniform or in civilian attire. Because of this, a challenge coin should reflect the bearer’s individuality as well as their branch and unit loyalty.
The military culture is one that plays just as hard as it works, if not nearly as often. Practical jokes and hard-driving, hard-drinking weekends are as much a part of military culture as standing inspections, reveille, and gunfire. The challenge coin is often used as a visual shorthand to display a member’s credentials to be in a given place, such as an NCO or Officers’ Club. When a coin is displayed in this way, it is often followed up by an audible challenge, such as a war cry, unit motto, or a more personal call. In either event, the bearer then flings the coin onto a hard surface in such a way as to make a clear sound. Others bearing challenge coins must answer the challenge. If everyone present does, the challenger must buy a round. If one person cannot answer or fails to do so in a timely manner, they must instead buy the round for the challenger and everyone who was able to answer.
While not all challenge coin holders use them for this purpose, it is a time-honored tradition in places where service members congregate. In addition to carrying with it a certain amount of good-natured ribbing, this bonding ritual demonstrates the fellowship and esteem all American services should share. More importantly, however, is the challenge coin’s function as a commemorative item that designates service, camaraderie, and adversity. Many service members today receive their first challenge coins right out of basic training. This announces to all that although they are still junior members of the service, they are as much comrades in arms as any other uniform-wearing person. Some veterans retire or leave active duty with a large number of challenge coins in their possession, and treasure them just as fiercely as their medals for service and valor.
If you’re looking for a great, unique gift for the service members, active or otherwise, in your life, a dog tag challenge coin is an excellent way to commemorate their service and thank them for their many sacrifices in defense of freedom both here and abroad. Not only do these special challenge coins make a memento they’ll be proud to carry, wear, and display, but they show that the bearer has done something really special and selfless. Order your customized dog tag challenge coin today!