You have probably seen posts on various social media sites of veterans calling out suspected members of society who don military garments posing as veterans themselves without actually serving their country. The Stolen Valor clips, usually start with the suspected poser being asked questions to corroborate the patches or medals they are sporting. When the answers do not match up, the person filming then begins berating and shaming the person, drawing attention from on lookers to alert them that the target is a fraud.
That seems to be a bygone narrative now, due to a federal appeals court ruling that came down on Monday in San Francisco pertaining to the case of Elvin Joe Swisher of Idaho. Swisher was charged in 2007 for violating the "Stolen Valor" Act; George W. Bush signed this into law in 2006 making it a misdemeanor to falsely identify oneself as a veteran. The appeal court on Monday threw out Swisher's conviction, citing a Supreme Court ruling in 2012 that dismissed Bush's Act, citing that the donning of falsely worn medals was a form of free speech.
This all stems from the 2005 trial of David Roland Hinkleson's trial in which Swisher testified that Hinkleson offered him $10,000 dollars to kill the judge presiding over Hinkleson's tax evasion trial. While on the stand, Swisher wore a Purple Heart (awarded to soldiers wounded in battle), investigators then took a closer look at Swisher's military history before bringing the Stolen Valor charges against him in 2007.
Prosecutor's found that Swisher's tesitimony included him stating that he had killed many men in the Korean war, but his military documents confirmed that Swisher joined the year after the Korean War ended, and although he has an honorable discharge, he was never wounded in battle.
Now while the Stolen Valor act was struck down, President Obama signed a law in 2013 that makes it illegal to profit from falsified military accomplishments, but there is a provision that states it is not illegal to wear falsely-worn medals.
How do you feel about that? Personally being a veteran, I would never claim to do more than I did. Fortunately my missions involved little action and would never place myself in the same vein as those whom faced far greater adversity. To the ones that were in the most hellish of times, seeing their peers die on a semi-regular basis, when they see false accomplishments being adorned, it is a slap in their face. It is akin to doing an office project, but when the group project gets turned in, the guy who passed it off to their supervisor claims all the credit. The big difference in that anaology is that the office team was not being shot or bombed.
The office example, you would be justifiably pissed off if someone took credit for your hard work, extra hours, and effort put forth. Thus you see the Stolen Valor videos with irate service members and can understand why they're so upset. Swisher is lumping himself in with those who faced greater adversity than he ever did, and while it may not be against the law, it sure lacks integrity. At the end of your military career, if you don't have integrity, then you might as well be lumped in with the rest of the frauds running around.