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I'd like an opinion - should we engrave a gift challenge coin to our sailor - or are they given away?  I'm somewhat confused. Thanks.

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My Sailor had know clue what they were but I took his home with us. Sorry if I cant help you out. He did receive one when he was a civilian he demonstrated how to wear a flight suit. A Navy pilot gave him one

What challenge coin are you considering giving your Sailor?

Some Sailors, mine included, don't want to receive challenge coins from non-military family members. Now that many commands don't give out challenge coins and that those who give them out have to purchase them rather than having them to give away, I think more family members will be buying challenge coins. There is info on Challenge Coins in What does ??? mean? (A Guide to Navy Abbreviations and Terminology) 

The coin is specifically made for his assignment - IS (Intelligence Specialist).  We thought it might be a nice gift but don't know if he will appreciate it if it's not "earned" ?? 

It would be more of a memento than an earned coin.  Get one, and put it aside for his shadowbox after his career.

Have you ever had a discussion with him about challenge coins? You can do as AntiM says and put it aside for his shadowbox.

Check your My Page.

Just for the record, you cannot earn a challenge coin anymore. The commands are banned from buying them. Sure some Commanding Officers will buy their own with their own money, but they are few and far between.
Here is the official Navy message concerning challenge coins...
http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/messages/Documents/...

This might help too...
Hi all,

Some of you have messaged me on wondering if it's proper for a parent to give their sailor a challenge coin... Here are my thoughts as a sailor....

To me, boot camp is a major accomplishment. In 8 short weeks, the Navy will return to you a mature and capable young man or woman that will have the foundation to be a leader. They will have the ability and knowledge to be a successful person in life. This is an honor for me, as a parent, to see my sailor's life change. You too, will soon realize that for 18 years or so you have been the "referee" in your sailor's life. You were the rule setter and the penalty enforcer. But as your sailor's life changes, so will yours. You will now become the "cheerleader" for them. You will watch and cheer as they work their way through the advancement system, the qualification standards, and simple things like just folding their towels correctly. You will stand and scream at the PIR as their division enters, and you will stand and cheer as their ship enters San Diego or Norfolk after a deployment. I have decided it is far more important for me to be a cheerleader than a referee. I don't waste my time on the sadness, I focus my feelings on the positive things that will help my sailor. When I show my sailor that I am proud of him, it goes a lot further than an award that the command "might" officially recognize him with. I am his "cheerleader".

Many people will say "but they didn't officially earn the challenge coin". Let me tell you, no coin is officially documented on a sailor's page 4 entry in their service record. It's only the sailor that will remember when, where, and the reason for what the coin was given. If you did receive a coin from a command and you happen to lose it, the only way besides begging the command to give you another (which they rarely do) is to buy it. So does that cancel out the spirit of the reason you receive the coin? No. You received it for something you accomplished. Whenever my sailor pulls that coin out, he immediately remembers how proud I am of him. It's ever lasting.

Some will say it's only proper for the Commander or a military member to pass the coin, this is wrong. It is proper for the family member to pass the coin to their freshly minted sailor. It is your day with your sailor. This is your time to show that you have learned the Navy as well as your sailor. The proper way is to greet your sailor with your hugs and kisses, then while everything starts to wind down and while still in the graduation hall, you will tell them to stand there because you want to make it official for them being a sailor. Then you will do the "secret hand shake" passing the coin (here is how to do the secret hand shake). http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/28663038#28663038
or, present it to them in the presentation box. Both the coin and presentation box can be purchased at www.PIRGifts.com. This is the family’s big day, live it to its fullest!!!!!

Your sailor will always remember this day. They will always remember when they were "coined", they will always reflect back when they got coined at future coining, and that you were the 1st to coin them, and they will always wonder how you knew how to officially present the coin to them. It's very enjoyable.....

Now let me ask, after PIR you go into the Navy Exchange and buy the mementos from boot camp that your sailor wants. You might buy a Navy Boot Camp water bottle, maybe a glass, patch, or hat that has "Great Lakes Navy Boot Camp" on it, or maybe even a t-shirt. But what item do you think will stand the test of time? It will be the challenge coin that your sailor's grandson or granddaughter will hold up and say "What is this? What does it mean? How did you get it?" That is when the grandfather or grandmother (your sailor) will get a warm smile on their face and will proudly tell them about what it was like to be a sailor.

Just my thoughts....

Craig
PIRGifts.com – Your boot camp challenge source (Providing 100% funding for NavyDEP.com)
NavyDEP.com – Our Mission: Remember - Honor – and Teach
“To Remember the fallen; Honor those who serve, and to Teach our future sailors the value of freedom.”

Thank you, Craig for your input.  We bought our sailor his first coin for PIR, his ship The USS Reuben James.  He just graduated A school in Pensacola and is now AE Electrician's Shipmate.  I have just bought a coin to commemorate this time in his career.  He was very touched and proud to receive these coins and will certainly cherish them much more than an NEX souvenir.....

Thank you so much for your post! It was incredibly helpful!

I wonder how many of Bill's coins were "earned". Yet he was so proud of his collection that he had it included in his official White House portrait,

President Obama caught in photos handing servicemen challenge coins doing "The Secret Handshake"... 
Now that is cool... (he actually drop one of them...)

 

Here is how to do "The Secret Handshake" - 
The proper way is to greet your sailor with your hugs and kisses, then while everything starts to wind down and while still in the graduation hall, you will tell them to stand there because you want to make it official for them being a sailor. Then you will do the "secret hand shake" passing the coin (here is how to do the secret hand shake).

NBC news video is here:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/28663038#28663038

Three years Presidential service, including 2 letters of commendation from the White House Military Office, and no coin. Just a photo. Still bothers me. There's nothing like the permanence of a coin.

I totally hear you CryptoDad. That coin means the most to a sailor. Frankly, the paper awards are ok, but having and carrying that piece of metal means the most to any sailor expecially if it's a presidential coin.
It's sad to think our government can send millions of $$$ to countries that hate the U.S., yet they can't spend a dime to those that defend it.... So sad....

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