In October 2021, members of the UPMC military and veteran employee resource group proposed the creation of a challenge coin as part of a more significant employee recognition effort. The UPMC Challenge Coin intends to introduce a valued aspect of military culture and tradition to UPMC.
Challenge coins have a long and storied history in the military, with traces going back as far as the Roman Empire. In modern military history, challenge coins instill esprit de corps in a unit and recognize sincere appreciation and respect for those outside it. The UPMC Challenge Coin arose from veteran employees seeking a way to encourage a sense of “tribe,” camaraderie, and pride among UPMC employees.
As the initiative developed, three goals emerged:
1. Employee recognition for UPMC veteran employees. There are approximately 1,300 self-identified veteran employees across the entire UPMC enterprise. On Veterans Day 2021, veteran employees received a coin in the mail along with a heartfelt note of thanks from UPMC senior leadership.
2. Raise awareness of the vibrant and robust military and veteran community. Each year, self-identified veteran employees will receive a UPMC Challenge Coin. If they have received one in previous years, we ask them to pass it on to a non-veteran in the organization who deserves particular respect and appreciation.
3. Community recognition for UPMC for Life veteran members. To connect in a meaningful way with our UPMC for Life health plan members who are veterans, they were all sent a coin along with a note expressing UPMC’s gratitude for their service to the nation.
Approval for the design involved coordination with the Department of Defense and all service branches who rightfully guard the use of their service seals and logos. All six official Military Service Marks adorn one side of the coin. This side represents military service to the nation and reminds us of the higher calling to serve. The reverse side displays our UPMC purple with a phrase linked to UPMC’s “Life-Changing Medicine” motto representing the recognition for our employees’ life-changing service to our members and patients. Together, these two sides represent the blending of two worlds, focused on service and being part of a “tribe” serving something greater than yourself.
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