As a military veteran, I take my accomplishments while serving very seriously. I didn’t win many special medals, mostly those given to everyone that was with me such as the Kuwait Liberation Medal, Southwest Asia, Good Conduct, National Defense and several others. The one medal I did earn that not everyone has is the Combat Medical Badge. This is a medal given to combat medics, such as myself, who saw combat. You not only have to be in a combat zone, but see and react to fire directly upon yourself in order to obtain this award. I proudly wear this medal on my hat which also states that I am a Desert Storm Veteran.
Recently I heard a story about a local man who was arrested and indited on charges of “Stolen Valor.” He had claimed to have been a Lieutenant General in Vietnam and boasted three Purple Hearts and even the Congressional Medal of Honor. He wore them on an Army uniform when he applied for a position with the Federal Government. If he wasn’t so blatant with his claim of the Medal of Honor, he might have gotten away with the ruse. Only 91 recipients of the nation’s highest honor are still alive today.
Until recently (2006), the Medal of Honor was the only service decoration afforded special protection under federal law to prevent it from being imitated or privately sold. In December of 2006 the Stolen Valor Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush. It broadens the provisions of previous law addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, sale or claim (either written or oral) of any military decorations and medals. It is a federal misdemeanor offense, which carries a punishment of imprisonment for no more than 1 year and/or a fine; the scope previously covered only the Medal of Honor.
I am all for this law! Members of the armed forces routinely put themselves in harms way defending our way of life and others’ freedom. Someone who claims, falsely, to have obtained a military decoration, no matter how small, is one of the lowest forms of life in my book. It insults those who fought and died for our country. If I believe a person is claiming to have a decoration they did not earn, I will challenge them to show me their military documentation and remind them that it is now against the law.
For each and every decoration I earned while serving in the Army, I have proof I am authorized to wear it in the form of my DD214. This is a document that each military service member is given upon release from duty. If it is not on this form, it is not authorized to be worn by the individual.
I salute each and every member of the U.S. military, both past and present. I am proud of the service I gave and I would do it again without hesitation if asked to do so.