Stolen Valor

America has always prided itself on its military and the people that serve. Our country has over 2 million brave men and women who either fight on the front lines or are in reserve units. When soldiers return home and go out in public, they receive a wide array of discounts to thank them for their service. There are 20 distinctly different general discounts that soldiers receive. That number does not include the military discounts privately offered by companies like 24-hour fitness and Starbucks. Additionally, often times the person in line behind the soldier often pays for the soldier’s items. Americans generally honor and respect our soldiers and veterans during holidays like Veteran’s Day. However, there are some people who bring dishonor to the uniform and lie about military service to receive benefits, discounts, or simply popularity. These cases are called Stolen Valor. Stolen valor is a serious issue, and is also becoming a major national issue. One ex-navy seal who searches for those who abuse the military uniform named Don Shipley said in one interview that he finds 20-30 frauds a day. Using the bare minimum figure, Shipley finds at the very least over 7,000 fakes a year. Just one man finds about 7,300 fakes every year. The number increases exponentially when you factor in the larger corporations like Guardians of Valor. The best ways of finding fake soldiers is through actual soldiers/marines. If a real army vet sees something incorrect with anything about the person, they will immediately quiz them on regulations, badges, and anything they would have to know or have known to be in the military. Below is the link to a video where a veteran calls out a military poser at a local mall. Due to offensive language towards the end, viewer discretion is advised:

There are many laws to combat service fraud. One of the most important is §771a. Disposition on discharge. This states that when a soldier is discharged, he is only allowed to wear his dress uniform. Any fatigues used for military purposes may not be worn in public places. This is one of the biggest ways to identify a fraud. The frauds will usually say that they were recently discharged or released. Another clear indication is the shoes. For each branch of the military, a specific color of boots matches to each different type of camouflage and uniform. For example, with the Army Combat Uniform, tan Army Combat Boots must be worn. Unfortunately, despite the best effort of laws and fraud hunters, stolen valor is still very prevalent in America. There was even a case in 2011 where a car full of illegal immigrants dressed as US marines to try and sneak into the country. Additionally, People like Rick Duncan, James Ingram and others continue to abuse the system by posing as combat vets and active duty soldiers. America must stay vigilant, and watch out for the frauds so that we may cherish the true heroes with all our hearts.

Sources:

https://www.care.com/a/20-discounts-for-veterans-1210110331

http://guardianofvalor.com/

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