How to Spot a Fake Veteran – A Story of Stolen Valor

With recent wars sending service members home grievously injured or dead, watching someone impersonate a service member is enough to make you furious. you see it out there all the time. Maybe you walked past a guy. Something about him just does not look right. However, you were not in the military, or you were not in that branch of the military so you are not sure. So, to avoid making a fool out of yourself you just do not ask.

However, later on that night, it is still causing you to lose sleep. Why does this bother you so much? Is it because there are Men and Women out there who are actually putting their lives on the line for your Dear Country you love so much, and this guy who may, or may have not done anything is getting all the credit?

"With recent wars sending service members home grievously injured or dead, watching someone impersonate a service member is enough to make you furious."

You would not be wrong to want to investigate. It is infuriating. The best thing I have learned in my investigation for the truth is to ask questions. I mean questions do not hurt, right?

Fact Check (The Fake Ranger)

Fact Check - The Fake Ranger

The best way, and possibly a good way to lose an afternoon, is to fact check. For example, if someone claims to have been in Special Operations (Rangers, Delta Force, SEALs, Air Force Parajumpers, etc.), it’s easier to rat them out. They do not do enough background work to create a believable story. As such a person in the REAL military can bust them out pretty easy.

What Class were they in?

See, every Special Ops person ends up chanting their training class number over and over. Ask for that. A quick call to the command will tell you when that class number passed through and you can use that as a gauge. You can ask what unit they were from and where they were based, and that’s an easy fact to check.

One story I hear from my Battle Buddy every time I am at the bar drinking. I swear he tells me this story all the time just to get a rise out of me. He begins the story with, “So, there was this Army Ranger Scout Sniper who used to come in from time to time and chat up the locals about how he used to be an Army Ranger Scout Sniper. However, one night he came in the bar chatting up the locals there was an actual a U.S. Army Ranger”. He goes on to explain how the fun it was to watch this guy squirm. The Real Army Ranger began to see very fast, as my Battle did, that his story just did not make much sense. So he began to question him about things that every Ranger, regardless if they are in the 75th Ranger Battalion or just graduated from the Schoolhouse will be able to answer:

1.Q. Question (from the REAL U.S. Army Ranger): “So, what class did you graduate from”!

1.A. Answer (from FAKE Army Ranger Scout Sniper): Uh… [long pause], I do not remember, I just remember it was Hot; it was a while ago.

2.Q. Question (from the REAL U.S. Army Ranger): Okay, I can understand that. So then, this should be an easy one for you, what is Rogers’ First Rule of Ranging?

2.A. Answer (from FAKE Army Ranger Scout Sniper): Uh, I do not remember…

At that point the guy had been made.  He went on at that point, thinking that maybe he had an embellished story of actual military service, to ask him basic questions about where he went to Basic Training, what was his first duty Station, and where he went to AIT or Advanced Individual Training (This is what the U.S. Army calls MOS Proficiency School). The guy fired and missed on each question. Saying things like he attended Basic Training in Arizona, and that he was stationed with the 101st Airborne Division as a Ranger. At that point, the REAL U.S. Army Ranger let him have it. Told him to leave the bar, or his real Army Ranger friends and he would be paying him a visit to rectify the situation.

non-compatible uniform items

Military Ribbon Wear

Another way to tell if he/she is a fake is to look at their uniform. Most Service member would not be caught dead wearing their uniform outside of regulations, minus those who take off their Blouse in the car… you know who you are! With that said, look for irregularities. For example:

  1. Verify that the branch insignias worn all match
    1. For example, if someone is wearing a Navy insignia on the left sleeve and has an Army patch above their left pocket, this would be a fake uniform
  2. Look at the placement of the medals and ribbons
    1. A very good indicator of Stolen Valor is someone wearing an officer’s cap with an enlisted man’s uniform, or USMC utilities and Navy insignia.
  3. See where the name patch and qualification patches are
    1. The name patch should be on the right side. The qualification patches (courses the person has passed, such as Airborne, Diver, etc.) are above or on the left pocket
  4. Check for current uniforms
    1. They should not be wearing A DCU (Desert Combat Uniform) Top and ACU (Army Combat Uniform) bottom.
  5. Do they have Facial Hair?
    1. This is almost a dead give-away. For the most part, if they have a beard then they are not in the Active military, with very few exceptions. Ask if they have a shaving profile. If they do not then there are probably lying.
  6. Check for neatness
    1. The military is very big on Wear and Care of the military uniform. I mean we are Professional Soldiers we should look like such. As such if they look sloppy then they are probably not in the military. If they are in the military they should be slapped for looking that homely.
  7. Ask questions and expect answers
    1. If someone claims he cannot tell you which unit he's in because it's "secret," then he is lying. If it is really a Secret unit then they have been briefed to give a name of a very verifiable unit.

Stolen Valor Act of 2013

Stolen Valor Act of 2013

Thanks to the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, it makes it a federal crime to fraudulently claim to be a recipient of certain military decorations or medals in order to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit. So, that make getting a 20% discount at Starbucks a federal crime.

As such, the “Stolen Valor Act of 2013,” serves to penalize people the second they stand to make some kind of financial benefit from their fake service. However, it is important to understand that it is NOT a crime to simply claim an award or claim military service when there was none. These claims, however wrong they are, are protected by the first amendment, the freedom of speech, and is the reason why the original Stolen Valor Act of 2005 was replaced.

However, the upgraded 2013 act seeks to attack the issue under a new context. If someone claims medal or service for monetary gain (or some other measurable, tangible profit), it can be considered fraud.

Have more questions? We would love to hear from you. Hope you enjoyed the article. Follow, like or comment us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. Until next time, Beard on, Beard Strugglers!


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