I read a very interesting quote the other day. It said that it is perfectly acceptable for those who are protesting the war to use any means necessary to get their message across, including outright lies. The reasoning behind this statement is that since the government lied about the reasons for the war, it is OK to lie right back.
I was only half surprised that the next statement wasn’t “But he started it!”
It’s good this is the way they think, when you look at who they choose for their poster children. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of one group of particularly vile anti-war protestors has said that former soldiers who are protesting the war give her organization “street cred." I tend to agree, but not for the reasons she means.
Many of the former soldiers who are her media darlings also seem to agree that lying to get their message out is an acceptable means to an end, as evidenced by the fact that so many of them have lied about their service, wear medals and ribbons they never earned, and can't even properly display their "racks." But, I guess since they didn't earn them, they never learned what is the right way to wear them.
While some may think soldiers war stories and fisherman stories have a lot in common, the real truth is that those who have done the most, seen the worst and lived to tell the tale seldom do. The guy regaling his drinking buddies at the local bar with his heroic exploits almost always turns out to have been a cook whose only weapon was a spoon. According to those against whom he wielded that weapon, it may indeed have been deadly, but unless they sent him to feed the enemy, he wasn’t responsible for the mayhem, havoc and general disintegration of enemy forces like he claims.
What is most sad is the simple fact that cooks and clerks are as necessary as gunners and infantrymen, and service to our nation is honorable, no matter the capacity. In addition, the living conditions for all are the same, at best a plywood box, a lumpy cot and showers that are the same temperature as the air, whether it is 100 degrees or 20 degrees out. Those in non-combat roles are just as far from their families, miss just as many holidays and birthdays as the guy trudging through the fields. In fact, without the cooks to feed them when they return to base and without the clerks who secure the supplies they need, they wouldn’t be able to go out on patrol. Still, there are some who, for whatever reason, feel the need to embellish their service records. That is sad, but it isn’t as bad as those who never served overseas, or never served at all pretending to be heroes who single handedly saved a dozen orphans and old women and killed two dozen opium driven, crazed mujahideen. With a spoon.
I think there is a special place in hell for those fake soldiers who claim heroic deeds that were the actions of others.
How can you tell who are the fakers, the wannabes and who are the genuine article? For starters, the old adage that those who did don’t talk about it and those who talk didn’t do it is a good rule of thumb. Of course, I’m not saying that everyone who claims to have seen and done some pretty rough things is a liar or even exaggerating. But, this tendency not to talk about what they’ve seen is one of the reasons so many of our current vets are struggling with their adjustment to civilian life, and one of the primary reasons the suicide rate is so high among these vets. For this reason if no other, it is imperative we shut down and shut up the fakers and the phonies, the posers and the imposters; they detract from the honor of those who did serve.
There are groups out there who are working diligently to expose these cretins. One of them is the POW Network. The group and all the others listed here can be used by employers to verify the military service and claims made by job applicants. Military records are requested through an FOIA submission, and then matched up with what a person claims. It seems that many, if not all of these posers aren’t aware that military service records can be so easily obtained and verified, and modifying or falsifying these records is a federal felony. Actually, it is easier to convict someone for falsifying records than it is to prosecute them under the new and amended Stolen Valor Act.
Another avenue to explore is the Stolen Valor tab of the website/blog “This Ain’t Hell but You Can See it from Here." This site, like others, is particularly useful in that it supplies pictures of the imposters, and details exactly what they have claimed as well as provides copies of their actual service records, when those records exist. It is surprising the number of FOIAs they get back that show no record of military service, in any capacity for some who have claimed numerous medals, awards and citations for acts of bravery on the field of battle.
The most outrageous of all the fake claims is those who say they are or were a Navy SEAL. The simple truth is there are about 10,000 living SEALs, yet there are hundreds of thousands who say they passed some of the most intense, physically and psychologically challenging training a person can endure. I find it astounding that someone would falsely claim they are a part of this brotherhood, knowing what this brotherhood was trained to do.
If you suspect someone of claiming they were more than they were, exactly how you can find out the truth is well detailed on StolenValor.com as well a list of those this group has outed. Like with the above sites, this organization is run and staffed by those who really did do the deed and earn the titles, ranks and awards. Though retired from active duty, they continue to serve by protecting the honor and integrity of the men and women in uniform by exposing those who profit from false claims.
Fakers hurt everyone, both civilian and military. Americans are known to be generous and kind, particularly in their support of those who have served this nation. When posers profit by lying about their accomplishments, people are less willing to give to the deserving, afraid of being scammed once again. What is worse is the obvious character defect these people display which then bleeds over into the average person's perception of a decorated soldier. It's like saying 'real men don't hit women'; real heroes don't tell you how great they are.
Don’t hold back in your support and don't let the posers taint the image of those who have walked the walk. Instead, do a little research and verify that the ones you are thinking of supporting deserve your respect, did what they say they did, are who they say they are. With the above links, this is easier than ever. In addition, the Department of Defense new site, Valor.Defense.gov is now live as well. Here all the recipients of the top three commendations for the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force are listed.
Maybe when enough of these guys are prosecuted and publicly humiliated, others will get the message. Or, send their sniveling, cowardly butts into the situations about which they've lied. If and when they live through that, bring them to a VA hospital and let them spend some time with those who have earned the medals, awards and honors they've pretended to hold. Better yet, take them on a guided tour of a national cemetary.
Below are a couple more links to groups and websites who are actively ferreting out these fakers. I wish them all the best in their endeavors.