Stolen Valor Act is Dead…For Now
By Mad Medic
Today, the 28th of June 2012, the Stolen Valor Act was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). Because of its supposed violation of free speech, Stolen Valor it is now left to be policed the folks that it really affects, veterans.
For years there have been mil-blogs that have repeatedly exposed these frauds for what they were…fake. Websites like This Ain’t Hell and POW Network have established themselves as professional outers. For you see, apparently it’s your freedom of speech to lie about your service, and use said un-service to gain notoriety, fame and even unearned VA benefits. I’m sure all the meritorious writing and photo-shopping won’t hurt a thing. But we as mil-bloggers will also exercise that same right to out your sorry asses, post proof that you are nothing more than a douche-nozzle, and then shove your nose in the pile of shit you just created; all because we are exercising that same 1st Amendment right.
Let’s face it, if it weren’t for guys like Don Shipley, Jonn Lilyea, or Mark Seavey we wouldn’t have a clue about some of these posers. A quick browsing of This Ain’t Hell will bring up a myriad of truly disgusting phonies. Some of these fuck-nuggets are so bad you have to wonder if they won’t someday win the Darwin Award for dying in a terminally stupid way. They post their fraud on their Facebook pages hoping to lure women in. They go around to various places and give speeches. They get dressed up to run charities, they do any number of things that are despicable and horrific in uniform all because they feel either entitled to it or they want to feed their own self- love.
Some are pretty silly, telling tales of being in Special Forces, and then when you call them on it, they claim “it’s classified.” Others are much more severe, taking very real tales of combat and altering details so that the story is unique, and then using it for political or economic gain. A member of IVAW was stumping for democratic candidates telling tales of the futility of the Iraq Campaign, only to find out that it was all false. Still, the guy got on 60 Minutes, and was featured in a lot of media outlets.
There have been other cases where the fraud is much more painfully evident, where someone claims to have been a POW in a bamboo cage, a la Deer Hunter (the most severe are remembered in the mil-bog community not by their real names but by the nick name issued with the outing), and bilks the VA out of hundreds of thousands of dollars only to find out later that the retard never set foot in country, and was dishonorably discharged. We have seen it again and again; people exaggerating their service, dates of service, hell even their branch of service, because apparently saying you served 6 years in the Navy or Air Force is not “hard core” enough.
There have even been active duty folks that have done this. One CSM claimed three awards that he didn’t earn, and he got the boot. At one point even the Chief of Naval Operations was under investigation for wearing unauthorized medals. He later committed suicide. It has even been suggested that John Kerry, who nearly became the President of the United States, entire litany of combat awards to include a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts may have been greatly exaggerated, and he may have falsified reports to make himself look more valorous than he actually was. It’s truly a plague.
Most Veterans I talk to are long past “why would they do this” when they find out about these tales and are on to “I want to monkey stomp the crap out of them”. The rage that these phonies inspire is understandable. I’ve spent 21 months of my life in a combat zone; I lost friends, and saw things that haunt me to this day. I have no awards for valor, I have no war wounds, and to my knowledge no one has ever suggested I’m a hero (at least no more than simply going over there). The idea that someone could take my story, which is very real, and spin it then use it for whatever purpose they wish fills me with the kind of anger that there just aren’t words for. When real sons and daughters die, and in ways its best their families not know about, it leaves a mark. Those sacrifices are painful to bare. The thought that those sacrifices might be used by some piss-ant whose combat experience includes playing Call of Duty on an X-box in his mom’s basement, should make every American cringe.
I can’t tell you the number of real veterans and real heroes who are quietly and anonymously going about their days, some of them barely getting by on minimum wage. That some douchelberry can whip out the ole’ skill-craft pen, alter a few details, then actually make money off these tales is appalling. And to be clear it’s not a movie, where everyone knows there’s going to be elements of “artistic license” (or in the case of the Hurt Locker or Green Zone outright lies). We get that books, and movies, plays and the like are going to have fictional elements.
The SCOTUS was right in that the harm is not being done to the Government. The military will continue to deploy. It will continue to go to war, and award thin strips of ribbons and brass to Service Members for nearly inhuman feats. They’re right that these gutter whores won’t harm the government at all. The damage will be done to this and every other generation of Veterans, who did the real thing, and have to suffer real wounds of war.
For now we will have to support This Ain’t Hell, and the POW Network. Ranger Up and The Rhino Den will support them and any other mil-blogger who does this wholeheartedly. We seem to be some of the only people that take these outrages seriously. We as a community will have to remain vigilant, even against our own, lest we fall prey to yet more lies and deceit. There is hope, however, that a new SVA bill will be passed. Right now there’s HR 1775 (I like the number) or similar measures that might be passed. I know that a lot of lawmakers are going to be busy dealing with the fall out of the Obamacare decision today, but it will be up to you to call your Representative or Senator and demand a new “updated” version of the Stolen Valor Act. I think it will be up to us to see this thing through as we are a very strong and highly motivated community.
Get out there and make sure everyone remembers that we earned our medals and ribbons and what they represent is more than just a decoration on a uniform. Tell the tales of what we have done for our country and that it has meaning and value in the blood sweat and tears we have all shed. We must show our country that valor still exists and that we will be there with the pen and the keyboard to ensure the world knows of those who attempt to steal it from its rightful owners.