For many, challenge coins have a value that exceeds their minting. It’s intrinsic. Holding them in your hand you remember the past, its memories, friends, and the fallen. While those memories may fade over time, the coins passed among a variety of units will always have a story to tell, of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. And while not “official” DoD challenge coins, some represent organizations dedicated to supporting those whom have, and do, serve – such as the Special Forces Association (SFA) in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. 
Began in 1964 between then active members of the Special Forces (SF) community, a handful of senior leaders came together under the idea of forming a support network intended to preserve the SF heritage and community. Of highlight is “Doc” Montgomery who drafted the first organizational By Laws for the SFA, and worked diligently to get them approved by the 18th Airborne Corps. By 1972 the SFA had progressed thanks to the tireless efforts of its members and supporting spouses to include “The Drop”, a monthly newsletter and broadcast service to discuss activities, members, and other topics of interest. Today the SFA holds annual membership conventions, sponsors multiple charities, and records the actions of past and current members in photos, essays, and memorials. 
Per their Mission Statement, “The SFA serves as the voice for the Special Forces community; perpetuates Special Forces traditions and brotherhood; advances the public image of Special Forces and promotes the general welfare of the Special Forces community.”  As a non-profit Veteran Service Organization with over 9,700 active members and 85 Chapters located throughout the United States and eight Countries around the world, the SFA sponsors six different charities including the Special Forces Charitable Trust and the Green Beret Foundation.  To assist in community outreach, the SFA also includes a message board, photos, and ways to view the current trainee class. Furthermore, the SFA allows for the donation of different funds that can assist past and current members of the SF community including;
- The Emergency Relief Fund that provides immediate financial assistance to eligible members, their spouses, children, and grandchildren in times of natural and unexpected disasters.
- The Patriot Fund established in 2007 that provides support and assistance to the JFK Special Warfare Center and School, the Special Forces Command, and seven other Special Forces groups and their families.
- The Family Readiness Groups and the US Special Operations Command Care Coalition.
- The Special Forces Scholarship Fund, an annual education assistance program providing education scholarships based on merit to children and grandchildren of SFA members.
The SFA challenge coin is a 2” epoxy coated coin with the Obverse displaying the SF “De Oppresso Liber” insignia, above which is placed the Roman numeral “X” to represent the SFA itself. Authorized in 1960, the crossed arrows of the SF insignia and scroll are taken from the 1st Special Service Force and intended to symbolize the principles of unconventional warfare. The dagger represents the “straight and true” qualities that forge an SF member. Lastly, along the black scroll reads “De Oppresso Liber” which is translated from Latin to mean “To Liberate the Oppressed”, a common mantra for the SF Community and their mission of bringing freedom and strength to many whom are themselves oppressed.  On the SFA challenge coin these elements appear in front of a green field that is representative of the green beret worn by Special Forces. Along the top outer edge of the coin reads “Special Forces in Iraq” while opposite along the bottom appears “Special Forces Association XCI” where the Roman numerals of XCI refer to the regional Chapter represented (in this case Chapter 91). 
On the Reverse is a design denoting the specific Regional Chapter. In this case the text along the top outer edge reads “Special Forces Association Crossed Swords Chapter 91”. The bottom also reads “In memory of our fallen comrades” to commemorate those in the SF community who have lost their lives during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). Continuing this theme, inside the coin are the infamous Crossed Swords at the “Victory Over Iran” Parade Grounds in downtown Baghdad. Meant to commemorate Iraq’s self-proclaimed victory in the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, the monument features two hands (reportedly to be Saddam Hussein’s) holding two swords aloft and crossed at the tip. Under these swords where the “progression of victors” would walk through, the Special Forces Unit Patch is presented. Here the light blue arrowhead symbolizes the wilderness survival skills of the American Indian and their ability to survive off the land, which SF members are aptly trained in. The dagger refers to the principles of unconventional warfare that are unique to the SF community. Lastly, the three bolts on the patch allude to the ability of the SF to “strike like lightening” from the three key terrain elements of land, sea, and air.  Under all these symbols appears “OIF” in silver lettering, while like the Obverse, all these elements appear on top of a green field.
1. Special Forces Association. Official Website 2012. http://www.specialforcesassociation.org/ (accessed December 3, 2012).
2. —. SFA History. 2012. http://www.specialforcesassociation.org/about/sfa-history/ (accessed December 3, 2012).
3. —. Mission Statement. 2012. http://www.specialforcesassociation.org/about/mission-statement/ (accessed December 3, 2012).
4. —. Charities. 2012. http://www.specialforcesassociation.org/charities/ (accessed December 3, 2012).
5. —. The Offical 60th Special Forces Yearbook. Edited by David Brown. Fayetteville, NC: FX Marketing Group, 2012.
6. —. Region X: Mountain. 2012. http://www.specialforcesassociation.org/chapters/chapters-region-10-mountain/ (accessed December 3, 2012).