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ADA challenge coins becomes FDS tradition

November 03, 2014

By Kimber Solana

 image of challenge coin
In the military, challenge coins — which usually bear symbols and mottos of one’s unit or battalion — are used to symbolize comradeship and unity.

It’s no different for ADA members in the federal dental services.

"Challenge coins in the military are a long- standing tradition. Senior service members frequently have display cases in their offices for coins they have received throughout their careers," said Dr. Dustin Bond, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and ADA/FDS member.

Recently, many federal dentists who join the ADA receive a challenge coin bearing the emblem of dentistry on one side, and the ADA logo on the other. The ADA's challenge coin started out in 2001 as an incentive for federal dentists to recruit their nonmember colleagues and has been used for membership promotions over the years.

"We wanted to provide our ADA federal dental services members with something that they could identify with, and the challenge coin is part of their tradition," said Dr. Thomas Kelly, past chair of the ADA Council on Membership.

Dentists who are in full-time military or federal government service are eligible for direct ADA membership at the national level. In 2013, there were 2,816 FDS members in the ADA.

The coins have also recently been given, as part of their welcome kit, to dental school graduates who are starting their careers in the federal services and to other new FDS members who have joined the ADA.

The long-time tradition of challenge coins has grown in popularity as active duty, retired and civilian personnel actively trade and collect the medallion-size coins.

Dr. Bond, who is an active duty dentist servicing in the Navy Dental Corps, holds five challenge coins, including the ADA coin.

"Each coin has a backstory with differing level of significance," he said.

He received a "finisher" challenge coin after completing the Marine Corps Marathon in 2007. The following year, he got a second coin from the Marine Corps Historical Half Marathon.

Dr. Bond acquired his third coin after he completed Officer Development School at the Officer Training Command in Newport, Rhode Island.

"This coin is significant because it serves as a symbol of my becoming a naval officer," he said.

His fourth coin—the ADA challenge coin—was given to him after he joined the ADA as an FDS member this year. The fifth was presented to him as an award for an outstanding uniform during a recent uniform inspection.

"I did not know about the ADA challenge coin. I was pretty excited when I received the package," said Dr. Bond. "I was so excited I immediately took pictures (of the coin) and tweeted it out for the world to see."

For more information on the federal dental services, visit ADA.org/fds or email fdsmember@ada.org.