Commander Coin Frequently Asked Questions

AFI 65-601, Volume 1 provides that Air Force activities may use appropriated funds to purchase special trophies and awards authorized by those AFI 36-XXXX series instructions which pertain to mission accomplishment or a MAJCOM/Base/FOA/DRU supplement thereto. Included are trophies, plaques, emblems, certificates, organizational coins, and similar items that are designed for display purposes.

This paper addresses frequently asked questions regarding organizational coins.

Where does the analysis start?

AFI 65-601V1, Budget Guidance and Procedures(3 March 2005), authorizes the use of appropriated funds (APF) to purchase awards authorized by 36 series(personnel) AFIs pertaining to mission accomplishmentor a MAJCOM/Base/FOA/DRU supplement thereto. Specifically, this AFI authorizes use of APF to purchase “organizational coins.”

What 36 series AFI authorizes use of APF to purchase award coins?

AFI 36-2805, Special Trophies and Awards(29 June 2001), para 1.4, provides, “[c]ommanders at any level may establishspecial trophies and awards programs torecognize military and civilian members and units or organizations.Include such recognition programs in appropriate base supplements.” (Emphasis added). Awardsmust be “of nominal value.” Para 1.4.3. A one-time award may be given to an individual or unit whose achievements made “a significant contribution to the effectiveness and efficiency of the Air Force.” Para 1.4.4.

Is there more than one program under which a coin can be given?

Yes, AFI 36-2805, Special Awards and Trophies, ACC Supp(23 July 2009), authorizes use of APF to purchase coins for “On-the-Spot Recognition” and “AppreciationAwards.” This supplement recognizes the importance of recognizing military and civilian personnel who, by dedicated individual effort, facilitate successful mission accomplishment. Para 1.4.5.

Does this ACC Suppapply to the AFCENT?

Yes, AFCENT falls under ADCON of ACC. Air Expeditionary Wings are encompassed within the supplement. See paras 1.4.5.1.8.9.10.

Can I recognize a contractor-employeewith a coin?

No.The problem is two-fold: first, our regulations only authorize the use of APF coins to recognize military members and civilian employees. There is no authority to use appropriated funds for either non-appropriated fund employees or non-U.S. Government employees. See AFI 36-2805and AFI 65-601V1, para 4.29 (stating employees paid from nonappropriated funds are not eligible to receive awards charged to appropriated funds).

What are appropriated funds? Appropriated funds are funds authorized and appropriated to the various branches of government for their operation as an Act of Congress and signed into law by the President.

The single exception permits a HQ USAF-level award, funded with APF, for which APF and NAF employees are competing for that single award. AFI 65-601V1, para 4.29. AFCENT/JA/DSN 312-965-3102/2 February 2011

Second, in the case of contractor employees, they should not normally be recognized as part of a government awards program as such would imply a level of supervision by government officials over these employees, and cause the relationship to approach a prohibited personal service contract. DoDI 14 00.25-M, Subchapter 451 states, “persons or organizations having a commercial or profitmaking relationship with the DOD . . . shall not be granted recognition . . . ." Applicable DOD policy guidance, interpreting this provision, states, “contractors are not employees of the government and are not to be treated as such."

Can I give a coin purchase with AFP as a gift or memento?

No. Do not use appropriated funds to purchase gifts/mementos for military members, employees, or private citizens unless specifically authorized by law. AFI 65-601V1, para 4.29. The only authority to use Air Force appropriated funds for gifts is AFI 65-603, Official Representation Funds –Guidance and Procedures (17 Feb 2004), which specifies the circumstances and the individuals to whom gifts or mementos may be presented.The only person authorized for Official Representation Funds (ORF) at AEWs is the wing commander who must seek authorization from AFCENT/CC on a case-by-case basis.

Additionally, AFI 36-2805, Special Awards and Trophies, ACC Supp (23 July 2009), para 1.4.5.2., provides that APF may be used to purchase coins “only to be used to recognize exceptional mission accomplishment.” They “will not be used as mementos or gifts (including going away gifts), nor should they be issued simply for being assigned to an organization.”

Can I personalize the coin?

No. Guidance from Air Force Instruction 65-01, Volume 1, states: For organizational coins, do not personalize them by stamping the presenter’s name on the coin and the presenter’s name is not to be added after the coin is cast. EXCEPTION: Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, 4-star general officers and 4-star civilian equivalents are authorized to personalize coins. The coins are to be presented as cast from the die without further embellishment, i.e. presenter’s name engraved. They are organizational coins, not personalized mementos. Use only the organization’s name and the position of the presenter (e.g. Commander 33rd FW Eglin AFB, FL).

Are there inventory requirements?

Yes, AFI 36-2805, Special Awards and Trophies, ACC Supp (23 July 2009),requires coins or similar items purchased for “On-the-Spot Recognition” and “AppreciationAwards” be clearly accounted for and stored independent of office supplies. Local accountable inventory procedures must be established to documentpurchase, distribution, etc. Para 1.4.5.3.

Hey, that O-5 gets coins paid for with APF, why can’t I get some coins?

Because you’re not a WG/CC, GP/CC, SQ/CC or Command Chief. The ACC Supplement to AFI 36-2805, provides that AEW Wing, Group and Squadron Commanders, as well as Wing Command Chief Master Sergeants are authorized use of APF to purchase awards for their On-the-Spot Recognition and Appreciation Awards Programs. Paras 1.4.5.1.8; 9 and 10.

Can I give a coin paid for with APF to foreign military members?

No. Coins purchased with APF cannot be given to foreign military members.

Can I present a coin for reenlistment?

Yes. To highlight the importance of reenlistment to the Air Force mission and the commitment of the member to that mission, the same coins used for mission accomplishment awards may be presented to members reenlisting. AFI 65-601V1, para 4.29.2.1.

Can I purchase a coin with personal funds and present it regardless of the above rules?

Generally, yes. There is no fiscal violation if the award coin given is purchased with personal funds. However, the DoD prohibition against recognizing contractor employees is applicable regardless of the source of funding for the award. See DoDI 1400.25-M.

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