“Stolen Valor” is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military derring-do that exist only in their minds.
Some phonies, with zero military experience, create their stories from whole cloth.
Others, having served an honorable but peaceful stint in the military, choose to embellish their records and “spice up” an otherwise unremarkable career.
Yet others, who are legitimate combat veterans – some of whom were decorated for bravery – also embellish an already-impressive military resume.
The common thread is that these folks are lying in public about their military service. It’s nothing new – there are stories going back many centuries of people boasting of their war record, and sooner or later are found to be lying.
In the United States, thousands of cases have been documented in recent years in which judges, politicians, celebrities, veterans’ group officials, antiwar activists, other prominent persons and average citizens have been exposed for lying about their military record.
Some of them simply boast of their fictional exploits. Others take it a couple steps further and don military uniforms and awards. Others go so far as forging government documents they use as “proof” of their stories. In a recent case in Texas, a young man claiming a Marine career - complete with combat tours and decorations - used forged paperwork to join the Army as a sergeant, even bypassing basic training.
While the phenomenon is most closely associated in the U.S. with Vietnam-era military fakery, many cases have sprung up in recent years with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; likewise, several fraudulent claims by World War II and Korean War-era “veterans” also have been exposed.