First, if you can, ask him some questions. Get some details about his/her claims. Take notes.
· What unit was he in? (Get a complete unit name. “Third Platoon” just doesn’t cut it.)
· What was his Military Occupational Specialty? (Including the alpha-numeric code)
· Where/when was the action they are claiming to have participated in?
· Does he claim to be a SEAL or in Special Forces?
o If so, ask his class number. If he can’t tell you immediately, he’s almost certainly lying.
· What awards does he claim?
· Was he wounded?
· Does he claim POW status?
If he starts telling you that his records, unit, job or mission were “classified,” you most likely have a phony. Military personnel records, units and military jobs are not classified. If the mission he was on truly was classified, he shouldn’t be talking about it in the first place.
Be prepared to do some research. If he says, for example, he was in the 30th Separate Brigade and he jumped into Afghanistan in 2005, look it up. In this case, you would find the 30th Separate Brigade isn’t an Airborne unit, it never served in Afghanistan, it’s a National Guard unit, and in 2005 it had just returned from a deployment to Iraq. Furthermore, there were no Airborne operations in Afghanistan in 2005.
Ask him to produce a DD-214, his military discharge papers. If he refuses, or simply tries to show you a certificate that simply says “Honorable Discharge,” he’s almost certainly a phony.
If you still have doubts, ask him to sign a SF-180, the form used to obtain a copy of a vet’s basic service records from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. If he’s a phony, he will almost certainly not be willing to sign. Be prepared for the person to become agitated or offended.
If all else fails, or you can’t ask him questions for whatever reason, e-mail the folks at the POW Network. Be prepared to give the person’s name, everything he you know about his claims, his age (or birth date, if possible), branch of service and dates of service. The POW Network will submit a full records request through NPRC, which usually takes 4-10 weeks to complete.
If you have evidence someone is a faking their war record for fraudulent purposes, such as receiving VA benefits they are not entitled to, go to Report Stolen Valor.org and click on “Report to Law Enforcement,” and follow the instructions there.