Although I am not a veteran, I have a host of family and friends that are. So, when I see someone involved in stolen valor, it pisses me off to no end. And Veteran’s Day always seems to flush these chumps. So, this Veteran’s Day I and Personal Defense World would like to offer our sincerest gratitude for the service of our country’s true veterans. To those out there playing dress up, pound sand.
Oath Fakers: What to Know About Stolen Valor
You may be surprised to know that stolen valor is nothing new. People have been lying about military service in order to receive tangible benefits for hundreds of years. In fact, in 1782, when George Washington was issuing General Orders creating new military awards and decorations for the Continental Army, he was ready for the scheme.
As a result, he wrote in the General Orders, “should any who are not entitled to these honors have the insolence to assume the badges of them they shall be severely punished.”
Even more surprising, according to the New Yorker, “When Walter Washington Williams, thought to be the last surviving veteran of the Confederate Army, died, in 1959, President Eisenhower called for a national day of mourning. It turned out that Williams had fabricated his service, and that the second-longest-surviving Confederate soldier probably had, too. In fact, according to the Civil War historian William Marvel, ‘every one of the last dozen recognized Confederates was bogus.’”
Although the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 attempted to address the issue, it was struck down by the Supreme Court. The court stated that it violated First Amendment rights. For this reason, President Obama signed into law the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which explicitly tailored the offending acts. Thus, addressing the court’s decision.
The new law lists the offending actions as using a claim to have served in order to “obtain[ing] money, property, or other tangible benefit” by “fraudulently hold[ing] oneself out to be a recipient of” a decoration or medal.
The medals listed in the statute are the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Ribbon, or a Combat Action Medal.
What Harm Can It Do?
For those that don’t understand stolen valor it may seem to be just some poor delusional soul trying to get a free burger and handshakes on Veteran’s Day. But it is so much more than that.
Although falsely claiming an unearned military record is a crime in the United States, it’s also a douche move. Some men and women have deep, lasting wounds from their service, whether visible or not. Likewise, there are those that don’t even want the medals and decorations that they so richly deserve.
My uncle, who served in Vietnam, was one such person. We didn’t even know about his medals until after his death years later when the Army gave them to my grandmother in a shadow box at his funeral, along with the folded flag.
When someone parades around, pretending to have earned these honors, they spit in the face of those who did. And they not only disrespect current veterans but veterans of all wars past.
However, even more egregious is that some use stolen valor to swindle money, goods, property, or positions of authority. Some even use this ginned-up military record to enter law enforcement.
If you know or have encountered someone that you feel might be involved in stolen valor, you can find out. Sites like MilitaryPhony.com have a searchable database and allow you to report potential stolen valor.
Stolen valor is not a victimless crime. Likewise, it is just slimy and mostly loser-ish. Don’t do it.
For those of you who served this country with honor, we salute you and thank you for your service.