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War Stories

Stolen Valor

by Bruce Powell, Pat Eastes, Rick Williams. Bill Hull, add your comments

also view "What's a Veteran?" by Rick Williams

RE: The Stolen Valor Act of 2013.

Bruce Powell: (13Nov2014) We have a lot of new people in the Society and many others who have been recognized on the website as being "Centaurs" and therefore lifetime members of CIVO (Centaurs In Vietnam Organization). This might be a good time to mention a bit more about how this organization works, with respect to our individual service and our credibility.

Dale Dow has worked quietly in the background for decades insuring that our roster is true and free of impostors or those with over embellishment of their records. That is why we call him the "Unit Historian and Roster Keeper".

Very few have been upset when Dale has requested more verification, like DD214 and such, of those wishing to be on our roster. Most are proud that this is occurring and insuring that their good name is being listed with true and honest veterans.

Just in case you were not paying much attention to our somewhat nonfunctional federal government last year, let me remind you of one great thing that happened as it relates to Veterans.

"The 2005 version of the Stolen Valor law made it illegal to lie about military service, regardless of intent. If you were trying to pick up a girl, or apply for a job, or score a free drink at a bar, it could be a criminal act. The Supreme Court, however, saw this as a violation of the freedom of speech and struck it down (on the same day that Obama Care passed as I recall - 2012)."

But this was a law that not even the Supreme Court and the ACLU could bury.

The Court felt that these despicable people could be prosecuted under current laws with fraud. Others countered that fraud is already a crime, but note that each state punishes it a different way. Since military awards are federal awards, they believed that there needs to be some standards at the federal level.

Representative Joseph J. Heck (Republican, Nevada) with 69 sponsors created and passed and amendment to title 18 of the United States Code, with respect to fraudulent representations about having received military declarations or medals. It passed the Senate unanimously and was signed by Obama on 3 June 2013. This was basically a better and enforceable law than the 2005 version. More details are available at Wikipedia.

Many strong minded veterans and friends have all but dedicated their lives to pursuing and exposing this vermin. Websites like Hall of Shame are devoted to tracking down and exposing these fakers using the power of the web and in some cases using this new federal law.

Be proud to be listed as a CIVO member and give Dale your continued support in this matter.

Pat Eastes (11Nov2014): In the 80s and 90s, all of a sudden it became in vogue to be a VN vet. I had encounters with lots of wannabes when I was a cop, who wanted to say that their VN service was the cause of their criminal behavior. In almost every case, they turned out to be either non vets or they never served in VN. One of my favorites was a dickhead that was always getting busted for petty theft, usually wearing a jacket with all kinds of vet stuff on it. As I remember, he was born about 1960, so no wonder he was screwed up from his service, since he was about 10 years old when he was in VN.

Rick Williams (12Nov2014): Totally agree about all the wanna-bees and liars. Even some of those who were in VN stacking cans at the PX love to embellish their "war experience" with combat stories, and I'm sure as Juaquin can attest far better than I, claim PTSD.

I've mentioned it before, but the book Stolen Valor documents this very well.

Bill Hull (Feb 2015): There are Vietnam Veterans and Vietnam Era Veterans, then there are the wannabe's. Some of those just want attention, some want to profit from the 'title' and some just want to boost their own lack of image.

I watched as one of the 'wannabe's home went into foreclosure and he got national attention on radio stations and even cable TV as a Marine Vietnam Veteran with PTSD along with other service related problems. He never serviced a day outside of the USA, only got a 'General Discharge' from the Marines. I had to "out" my brother and it still bothers me today that MY younger brother would try to ride that horse.

We paid our price in country and many of us continue to pay that price today with PTSD, Agent Orange related illnesses and scars/wounds we and our families carry for life. We each spent a year, some of us two or three living with seeing our friends mutilated or dying and living with the knowledge that any day it could be us.

We often came home to scorn, disregard and disrespect from both the population and even the government agencies that were supposed to support us. We were often shunned and labled 'the defeated generation'. It took years before America acknowledged the dedication and sacrifices we paid. It took years, blood sweat and tears to regain the respect, acknowledgment and honors that comes with being American Military Veterans.

We know what it means to have served in combat. We know the price that is paid and the cost to us and our loved ones, Is it any wonder why we so strongly resent those who would assume the title of 'Veteran' without earning the right?