Recently, I ran into an male in his early 40′s who was wearing a shirt bearing an image of a sight reticle from the scope of a rifle. Above this image was a slogan that read. “One Shot, One Kill”. Out of curiosity, I asked him if he was a pretty good shot. He said that he was, in fact, he had recently hit a beer bottle from 700 yards with his 30.06. Knowing this sounded pretty absurd, I asked “700 yards”? He replied, “Yes”. I asked him what power of a scope he had used. He responded that he hit it using open sights.
After 23 years of service, I have had my fair share of marksmanship training, and consider myself to be a decent sharpshooter though not anywhere near the expertise of a sniper. But I know that for someone to have hit a beer bottle at 700 yards, using open sights, then that beer bottle must have been 15 feet tall. I was afraid to ask the next question that immediately popped in my head, but I did. “Were you in the military?” I asked. I was expecting him to respond that he had been a sniper in the Marine Corps or United States Army and that he had 4,000 confirmed kills with a personnel file considered “Top Secret”. I was shocked when he responded that he had never been in the military at all. Feeling somewhat relieved, I told him to have a great day.
Although I felt his story of hitting a beer bottle at 700 yards using open sights was extremely exaggerated, he could have compounded it worse by telling me that he had been in the military along with some wild stories of hunting Osama Bin Laden, but he didn’t. Because there are individuals out there that have never served a day in the military yet try to pass themselves off as veterans; with Bronze Star’s, Silver Star’s, Purple Heart’s, Medal of Honor’s and other awards for Valor, Qualifications and Achievements. These individuals are known as Posers. Better yet, in the eyes of the law, many of these individuals are known as criminals. The Stolen Valor Act was created and signed into law by Congress to punish those individuals who are presenting themselves as something they are not.
The topic of Stolen Valor is a hot topic, particularly amongst veterans. There is an organization that has been a leader in publishing the actions of these posers. They do so on their Guardian of Valor website. (http://guardianofvalor.com) They also have a Facebook page entitled “Stolen Valor”. On their website, you will find their Hall of Shame. This area is reserved for some of the worst posers. The majority of the public that has never served in the military might not understand, but stolen valor is a hot topic amongst veterans?
During my 23 years of service, I never served one day in a combat environment though I served faithfully and honorably. I was part of a burial detail that conducted military burials for almost 5 years. I’ve seen the pain displayed by the family members of lost service members. To give one’s life in the service of their country is known as giving the ultimate sacrifice. I have had several brothers and sisters, with whom I served, deploy to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Panama, and Bosnia. Some gave the ultimate sacrifice, others are still suffering from the wounds they received. My own sister served in Kuwait during Desert Storm. Because of her service over there, she is still suffering medically. She has spent numerous weeks in VA hospitals trying to find out what is wrong with her. Finally, after years of pain and suffering, they have made a medical determination and she is receiving disability pay.
Understanding the pain and sacrifice so many have made is easy for me to grasp. When someone who has never spent one day in the military puts on a uniform and portrays themselves as a veteran, they are committing a criminal, fraudulent act in my eyes. They never spent a single day in a foxhole, never carried a 100 pound pack on their back during a road march, never ducked or jumped for cover with incoming rounds landing all around, never held the hand of a screaming soldier who had a leg blown off while waiting for a chopper, they’ve never faced the enemy in hand to hand combat and they have never even spent a year or more away from their family.
Why do these posers do it? For the most part, I think most of them do it for personal gain. The Stolen Valor Facebook page has a quote from George Washington that says “Guard against imposters of pretended patriotism”. That is what the Stolen Valor Act does. Want to know the saddest fact? Some of the posers don’t even bother to read the regulations to know how to wear the ribbons, medals, or other distinctive insignia correctly on the uniforms. You would think that if someone was going to try and commit fraud, they would want to do it right. Some of them look absolutely ridiculous.
Who are these posers? You wouldn’t believe who some of these people are. Candidates running for public office, and there have been several, are the ones that surprise me the most. If you’re running for public office and you are presenting yourself as something that you are not, wouldn’t you be concerned that your fraudulent act would be discovered? There have even been TV personalities on some of the survival skill reality shows that have been exposed.
Believe it or not, there are also posers within the military as well. I served with one such individual early in my career. About 10 years later we both ended up in the same unit again. This time he was wearing a Ranger Tab. I asked him when he went to Ranger School. He responded that he went in 1986. He even told me that he had participated in Operation Just Cause in 1989 with the 75th Ranger Battalion. I had my suspicions, but I let it go. One day, when we were getting ready to clear from a Field Training Exercise, I was collecting weapons and asked everyone to clear their weapon. As he approached me with his M16, he removed the magazine and pointed the rifle towards the ground and pulled the trigger. A round discharged. Immediately, I screamed some curse words and a brief investigation initiated. I began to question his Ranger Tab. I approached my First Sergeant and told him what happened, and that I did not believe this Staff Sergeant was, in fact, Ranger qualified. After contacting the Ranger school at Fort Benning, Georgia, this Staff Sergeant was called in to the Commander’s Office and in front of the Commander, First Sergeant and Battalion Sergeant Major, he was ordered to remove the Ranger Tab.
Every real veteran that has served honorably knows what he or she has done in their career. Every real veteran knows what they have sacrificed. Every real veteran knows what it takes to serve honorably. Every real veteran knows what blood, sweat and tears they’ve shed. As for this veteran, when someone commits this fraudulent act, and they are exposed, it is a slap in the face to me and those that I served with. It is a slap in the face to those family members I remember seeing at the funerals, as we buried their loved one, and it is a slap in the face the one who gave that ultimate sacrifice.
In 1969, Ruth’s husband was killed in Vietnam. In her memoir, she describes her struggle to overcome her loss from a war that no one wanted to even talk about. After many years, she began to feel a compulsion to write down her story. Ruth found the process of “writing her memoir and looking for her personal ‘truth’ immensely restorative.”
Ruth has become a firm believer in the effect writing can have on healing from loss. Currently, she holds writing workshops for members of the Gold Star Wives of America. A Gold Star Wife is one who has lost her husband to combat as Ruth did. By her own statement, Ruth will be using the new book Expressive Writing: Words that Heal as the textbook for her upcoming workshops.
For more information on Expressive Writing: Words that Heal and the healing power of expressive writing, click below:
To view the very powerful and moving trailer for Ruth’s book, please visit youtube and search for thosewhoremain.
Every veteran suicide just breaks my heart and makes me angry. I’ve been hearing recently that some in the medical and military communities are claiming that those coming home with PTSD must have been damaged in some way beforehand. I don’t agree. I think a lot of our soldiers coming home with PTSD had gentle, kind hearts to begin with that are now heavy with fear and guilt. They can’t help it. In America, for the most part, we all have kind, gentle lives. We aren’t war torn. We really don’t know what it’s like to fear for our lives and those of our children every day.
The military takes these basically kind people and puts them through basic training. They are all treated like dogs regardless of whom they are or where they come from. Once they are all at their lowest, the drill sergeants begin to bring them back up together to make them one cohesive unit, equal on all terms. This is necessary. Continue reading and add your comment
It seems unfair that one person can stop a hearing on a measure that involves research. Research that may show once and for all if marijuana is an effective treatment for PTSD.
The federal government has approved the purchase of marijuana by the University of Arizona so that the university may begin their study into whether or not marijuana actually helps those with PTSD.
This article provides a great list of signs and symptoms common to those suffering from PTSD. If you think you or someone you love may suffer from PTSD, then please consult this list. If it looks like you or they do, contact your nearest Vet Center.