Stolen Valor

Our country is at war.

Many Americans hold a heightened sense of awareness of the great sacrifice of those who serve in harm’s way. Some of the men and women in who serve in our military have engaged in acts of selfless courage and bravery, and have been commended for their efforts.

The Stolen Valor Act makes it illegal to wear military medals that were never earned. It is an issue that transcends politics.  An amendment to the act passed handily in Congress in 2006, receiving a unanimous  “yea” vote in the Senate.

This issue has recently hit very close to home. Last month a prominent local public official in my community resigned after he made false claims about serving in the military. An investigation concluded that Mickey Lloyd, Director of Public Safety for Cobb County, Georgia, lied about his military service and awards he received while serving in Vietnam.

The resume he had submitted to the county showed that he had been a Navy SEAL, and that he had been awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star. When arranging for speaking engagements, Mr. Lloyd provided biographical information that stated he had received a Purple Heart. These awards and service are not reflected on Mr. Lloyd’s official military record.

Both my father and brother served our nation with careers in the Air Force, each one retiring after over 20 years of service. My father served in two theaters of war – Korea and Vietnam. My brother served in the First Gulf War.

Why would someone claim to hold a military rank they have never held? Why would someone claim to have received medals they were never awarded?

According to, “It starts off simple enough. A casual mention of military service. And, oh by the way, a Purple Heart and a few other honors earned. How can you not trust a man who served his country so gallantly? From there, confidence builds, one story weaves into even more glorious tales until, at some point, the fabrication is woven so tightly you begin to suspect…How can one person achieve so much in such a short time? It’s almost too good to be true.”

Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran whose efforts led to the passing of the Stolen Valor Act, says, “(I)n the vast majority of these cases there is always underlying fraud.”

Here’s a clue – if someone shows you a military uniform full of medals, claims it is his, and claims he can never be photographed wearing it and can never wear it in public, it probably means he hasn’t earned the honor of wearing it.

Those who falsely portray themselves as serving in the military and as having been awarded military commendations are living a lie. If you wish to report someone who has engaged in this behavior, you can do so here.

Real heroes live their convictions. They act in ways that are worthy of honor.

They don’t steal valor from others.


Legal Action Threatened – Part 3

After my mother-in-law, Peggy Smith, confirmed her suspicions that she was being deceived by Stan Cottrell, she began contacting others who have business or personal relationships with him to alert them about the deception.  Some revealed that they, too, had been deceived.

She learned that Mr. Cottrell is associated with Platinum Business Group, so she contacted them on Friday, July 30, 2010 to alert them, as well.

The following Monday she received a response from the President and CEO of the firm, who claimed that a preliminary investigation had been completed – over the weekend.

The response also contained unfounded accusations besmirching my mother-in-law’s character, without revealing the source of the accusations. It also indicated the firm had “turned this matter over to our corporate legal counsel.”

It has been two weeks since the false accusations were made against my mother-in-law. I wonder what their investigation has turned up so far? I wonder how long it takes lawyers to initiate legal action?

The response also said they “expect to receive a complete retraction of your email and its implications.”

You can’t retract the truth.

I can’t wait for all this to get to court so I can swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

The Uncomfortable Truth

Have you ever noticed that when you tell an uncomfortable truth that some people attempt to portray it as gossip?

I received an email today from a person who asked my opinion on how to respond to someone who had sent her a letter about gossip. My response is below.


I don’t know what you have heard from others about Stan, but I know that what he said and did to me and my family is the truth,  not gossip.

I will swear to it on a stack of Bibles.


Christmas with Our Family

One of my sisters-in-law lives in another state. She and her family celebrate Christmas with her husband’s family in December, and they come to Georgia in January to celebrate with us. This past Christmas we gathered the first Saturday in January at my mother-in-law Peggy Smith’s home. We were expecting a full house – one dog, 6 children, and 9 adults.

One of the adults was the new man in my mother-in-law’s life – Stan Cottrell.

Mr. Cottrell had told her several months before that he was separated from his wife, Carol, he had agreed to her demands to give her all his assets, and that the divorce papers were with the lawyers.

He had pledged his love for my mother-in-law and invited her to accompany him on a trip around the world when he would run 66 miles in 66 countries in 66 weeks. At the time she had no idea that none of this was true. She was glad that he was planning to join us for our family Christmas celebration.

My niece, two nephews and I took the dog for a walk around the neighborhood. By the time we returned all the family members had arrived. We all gathered in the kitchen and held hands while my 12 year old niece said the blessing. After we ate dinner together we played Apples to Apples, and some of the children and adults played hide and seek. Then we all gathered in the living room to take turns opening gifts.

Mr. Cottrell arrived about half way through the gift exchange.

Among the gifts he received from my family were a Yorkie poster, several shirts, a Christmas picture frame with pictures of Peggy’s grandchildren, and dog snuggies for his dogs, Sir Winston and Lady Katherine.

My 84 year old mother gave him a blanket she had made herself.

I wonder where the gifts are now? I wonder what he told his family about where he got them?

Legal Action Threatened – Part 2

Below is the text of an email and documents that my mother-in-law Peggy Smith sent to Ms. Marijean Stallings, President and CEO of Platinum Business Group, Ltd. in response to their email to her.


Ms. Stallings,

I sent my email to your husband to warn him so you would not continue to be deceived.

You will soon receive by certified mail copies of a few of the relevant documents. I have many, many more.

Can you trust a business associate who cheated on his wife?

Peggy Smith
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32