According to recent data gathered by the Research and Development Corporation, close to 20% of military veterans currently suffer from the heartbreaking effects of PTSD.
Even more devastating?
In July of 2016, a revelatory study was published stating that nearly 20 veterans commit suicide — every single day. Too often, the mental health of veterans is swept under the rug, especially due to social pressures for soldiers to remain “tough” and “strong.”
However, as illustrated by the results of these studies, the consequences of ignoring the mental health of our military members are incredibly severe.
Military challenge coins serve as a kind of “secret handshake” for vets and their supporters to be able to reach out and ask for help. But what are these coins, and what is the challenge coin etiquette surrounding their giving?
Read on to find out.
What Are Challenge Coins?
You likely already know that sometimes, no matter what kinds of personal or professional issues you’re facing, asking for help can often be the hardest part.
Some may see it as a sign of weakness, others may feel embarrassed, and even more may have trouble figuring out who they can trust. Some may even worry that they’re a burden to others.
Military challenge coins help to keep the network of support that so often accompanies — and really, defines — the military lifestyle alive, even after a return from deployment.
These coins serve not only as a tangible recognition of service, but they’re also a symbol of a kind of “secret code” among military members. They are printed with several different military and service insignias so that each different branch of the military (or in some cases, law enforcement) can be recognized.
The coins can also be printed to symbolize rank within the service, and sometimes even years served.
Understanding The Coin Check
A “coin check” is a callout that is used to recognize and honor active and past military members. The coin check is essentially the first rule in challenge coin etiquette.
When someone shouts it out, (or just holds their coin up in the air or slam it on a table) everyone with a coin must display it. In some cases, the last person to draw out their coin will need to buy everyone a round.
In other cases, it’s shown to someone as a secret request for help. Or, showing the coin can let someone know that you are always open to hearing anything they need to get off their chest.
These coins help soldiers to recognize and respect one another, no matter the time or the place. There are no rules about when a coin check can happen, which is why many people choose to have their coins on their person at all time.
Challenge Coin Etiquette: What You Need To Know
Now that you have a better understanding of what these challenge coins are, and what makes them such an important part of military history, let’s move on to talking about basic challenge coin etiquette.
First of all, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you should never physically hand your coin to another person.
This means that you are actively giving someone a coin. So, if you want to show your coin or initiate a challenge, cup it in your hands or simply raise it above your head.
Of course, it goes without saying that you should be sure to give every member of your team/unit a coin and relate these same rules to them.
Know The Rules
Once a coin check is initiated, it’s up to you to move quickly!
Of course, there are limits to exactly how much you can move. Remember that the whole idea of these challenge coins is for them to remain on your person at all times. This means that if you take more than four steps to reach your coin, you’ve automatically lost.
If everyone is able to produce their coins, you keep the challenge going. If someone drops their coin while taking it out, then they’re also declared the loser and will usually need to buy everyone a round (or whatever “consequence” has been agreed on ahead of time.)
So, what happens if you’ve initiated a coin check, but everyone on their team has their coin?
There are several ways to go. You can bite the bullet and follow the traditional rules by buying everyone a drink. Or, you can make the rules so that the last person to pull out their coin needs to do the buying.
Other things you need to remember? It’s up to you to replace any coin that you’ve lost. You don’t have to wait for someone to give you another one if it’s already happened once. Still, try to avoid this, as some may see a lost coin as a sign of disrespect.
Never cut holes in your coin (for example, to put it on a chain) and always keep your coin clean.
Ready To Design Your Own Challenge Coins?
Now that you know the basics of challenge coin etiquette, you’re likely ready to purchase coins for the vet, active members, or military friends in your life.
The good news?
With the popularity of these coins continuing to climb, there are more options than ever when it comes to their design.
We offer challenge coins geared towards US military members, law enforcement officers, US government agents, firemen and women, and much more. We’ve even created special challenge coins that businesses can use to strengthen the sense of camaraderie in the office!
We invite you to browse through all of the coin options on our website.
Don’t see something you like? Don’t worry — we can make it for you.
Get in touch with us today to get started on creating your design, and reach out to receive a free quote. We offer free shipping, complimentary revisions and art, and much more.