Stolen Valor describes those imposters claiming to have served in our military and to show off the medals they never earned. However, in the last ten months, three veterans have been publicly accused of Stolen Valor. And that in itself is a travesty.
75-year old Robert D. Ford wore his Marine uniform on Memorial Day, 2015 to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony in Harrisburg, Penn. Afterwards, he went to a nearby arts festival when he was accosted by an army soldier accompanied by a Harrisburg police officer. The officer shouted to the crowd, “He’s not a real Marine! Stolen valor!”
Of course, Ford was indeed a veteran and subsequently filed a complaint. Since then, there has been no report that any action was taken against the officer.
In October, 2015, Marine Corps veteran Michael Delfin was attacked outside of a bar in Sacramento, California, by two men, one with an active duty Air Force ID badge. The incident resulted in Delfin’s broken tibia and jaw.
Inside the bar, Deflin has shown his ID card. But his attackers did not recognize his active duty status and then claimed, “Stolen Valor”!
He reported to the local CBS station:
He’s ignorant. He needs to learn how to read an ID, plain and simple. When a vet tells you he’s a vet and he’s obviously wearing a fallen brothers bracelet doesn’t even recognize that.
The men were never found.
In November, 2015, Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran Jack Hughes was accosted at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, North Carolina by a group of young men who said they were marines. While wearing a suit with medals and ribbons, Hughes described the event:
All of a sudden (a man) jumps up and he’s got a camera in my face screaming, ‘Your medals are crooked. You’re a fake. You’re not a Marine. He kept screaming at me, telling me I was nothing, that everything I had was fake. I was a fake and phony.
After showing VA healthcare card, one of his attackers grabbed his jacket and ripped off a few buttons. Airport police escorted the men away and no charges were made.
So what’s it like being falsely accused of Stolen Valor? Robert Ford said through tears in an interview:
It’s like they take your whole life and throw it in the trash can.
The problem appears to be active military personnel as well as civilians do not fully understand the Stolen Valor Act of 2013. Basically, the law states that falsely claiming to be a veteran and/or falsely wearing medals is legal. The law makes it:
a crime for a person to fraudulently claim having received any of a series of particular military decorations and awards with the intention of obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefit from convincing someone that he or she rightfully did receive that award.
Unfortunately, that does not assuage the trauma dealt to Ford, Deflin and Hughes.
The lesson here is easy: let it go. It’s not worth it to falsely accuse anyone of Stolen Valor!