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 StolenValor.com, “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.

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