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Stop pretending to be a hero

By   /   April 3, 2013  /   Comments

Veterans of the United States armed forces like myself have a wide variety of ideologies, religions, personal philosophies, and so on.  We’re all very different people.  One thing most of us agree on?  How despicable it is for some people to claim to have been part of special operations units.

I currently have to interact on a semi-regular basis with a former “SEAL”.  This gentleman – and I use the term loosely – routinely talks a lot of smack about his days in the teams, and spends a bit of time trying to convince me he’s a bad ass.  Well, in my almost 40 years of life, I’ve learned one inescapable truth.  The more someone tries to convince me they’re some super soldier, the more likely they are to not be able to back any of it up. I’d bust him publicly, but I don’t have access to the relevant records…yet.

Veterans and active duty personnel take a certain amount of pride in busting these people.  They’re a lot like the older sister on Disney’s Phineas & Ferb, except they actually succeed in busting these turd nuggets.

One favorite example is that of a young soldier who had a feature written about himself in his local newspaper.  He told the reporter that he was a special forces sniper and that his rank was classified.  Of course, his PFC rank was visible on his uniform and his alleged sniper rifle boasted a stainless steel barrel.

The article made it to an internet website made up primarily of active duty military, law enforcement, and veterans.  Oh, the hell that was unleashed.

It turned out that this young man was active duty.  He served in an armored unit located at Ft. Bragg, NC.  The Command Sgt. Maj. for the Special Forces unit he claimed to be part of reportedly had a little “chat” with the young man.  Soldiers from the unit reportedly had chats of their own.  The membership of the website began calling the newspaper to point out all of the flaws with the story.  They reportedly called the boy’s parents to ask how they could have raised such an idiot.

They might have gone a bit overboard, but the point remains.  Veterans aren’t fans of people “stealing valor”.

If someone served, be proud of what you did.  You worked supply?  So what?  Logistics is essential to a properly functioning military.  You admin?  Someone has to make sure the combat arms guys are getting paid, right?

You didn’t serve?  If it’s because you medically couldn’t, most of us understand how that goes.  Personally, I have respect for you because you were willing.  If it’s because you just didn’t want to, that’s fine too.  We have voluntary service, so you actually had that choice.

Vets don’t tend to get made because someone didn’t serve.  We tend to get made when you didn’t serve and act like you did.

Folks, I was a Navy Corpsman.  A look at my service record won’t show you a lick of combat.  I don’t lose sleep over that.  I served during a time when there wasn’t a lot of shooting going on.  I served, was willing to go where ever I was ordered to go, and give up my life if necessary.  I didn’t want to die for my country, but I was willing to if that would keep my brothers alive.  I feel no shame in that part of my service (being a bit of a screw up though?  Yeah, I’m a little ashamed of that).

I’m still proud to have been a Corpsman because of what other Corpsmen have done.  I’m proud to have been part of that history.  The same is true of most vets and their respective units.  However, many of us have more people claiming to have served than actually did.

There are roughly 1 million Vietnam veterans still alive.  However, there are estimates that there are 13 million people claiming to have been over there.  The FBI estimates that there are 300 people claiming to have been a Navy SEAL for ever person who actually was a SEAL.

Quit stealing these people’s valor.  If you didn’t earn any of your own, that’s your problem.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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About the author

Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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