Being in the military entails so much; it is about camaraderie, service, and honor. If you pretend to be a lawyer, doctor, or police officer it is punishable by law but if you pretend to be a service member, nothing happens. Lately there seems to be a lot more people pretending to be service members when in reality, they are impostors. For those who have served, this is the ultimate sign of disrespect and it is unforgivable. Stolen valor is a very serious matter.
Why do they do it? It’s simple - to reap the benefits of being a service member. They want to get the attention and gratitude of those around them without actually doing anything. What would be the best punishment for these individuals? Some suggest public humiliation, community service, jail time, or fines. Under the Stolen Valor Act, if someone receives any sort of money or personal gain while impersonating a service member he/she can be charged for fraud. Is a fraud charge enough of a deterrent to stop impostors?
For those who have served and suffer with PTSD or battle wounds, to see “pretend veterans” is no laughing matter. As long as people are able to buy uniforms and medals online, they will continue to get away with impersonating service members. You shouldn’t be able to just buy these items by clicking your mouse. When you serve in the military, you must earn that honor and dignity, you cannot just buy it. How can the military community as a whole come together to stop stolen valor from happening?
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*These opinions belong to the writer and in no way reflect the views of the DoD or other departments of the US government.