Medals site puts vets at risk
Published: July 26, 2012
I have recently seen in the news ideas being proposed that a public website be created so that people can search to see if someone really has the military medal(s) he or she claims to have (“New DOD website to serve as war medal database,” article, July 25 ). I want to state publicly to all: Wow, what a great idea! Now al-Qaida will know exactly who they need to kill!
Yes, put up all the names of our nation’s heroes, and guys who have been busy killing the enemy. That way they can also get harassed by the anti-war crowd in their homes and workplaces!
Yes, I know that some “civilian” websites have some information like this posted, too. I think they are doing a great service. Of course, once the first veteran gets murdered by some disgruntled fool or gets hassled by an anti-war protester, they will know who to thank for their trouble.
Do the advocates of this effort not remember when those U.S. Navy guys accidently shot down an Iranian civilian airplane full of people in 1988? I seem to recall hearing at the time that some of those naval officers had to go into hiding because of terror threats to them and their families.
I served, and I have no claims of Internet skills, other than the most basic of email and Google. As an experiment I just picked a random name off of one of those medal confirmation sites. It took me less than an hour to find out where the guy lived, where he worked, and who his wife and kids were, where they worked and went to school, and get photographs of his house and some of their kids — all using free online databases. If I was some anti-war activist or a terrorist, all kinds of bad things could happen. And if I could do this, obviously so could anyone with much better skills than I have.
What will the site’s operators do about people who don’t want their personal information out there on a site like this? The site’s operators are putting those to be listed in a Catch-22 position of either being called frauds because they didn’t want their info on the site (and, therefore, no one could verify their medal claims) or being forced to risk harassment or assault by having their info on the site.
This idea is stupid. Guys have been telling war stories as long as people have been telling fish stories. Does anyone honestly think that someone is just going to loan a guy some money or give him a job on account of the dude telling everyone that he is a triple heart-wearing airborne Special Forces Delta commando? Get real.
Only a very small minority of people care about this issue — a minority of self-righteous jerks who think that what they did is so much more special than what a heart doctor or astronaut or young, thin rich guy does. All those other people would probably like people not to impersonate them, right?
With this proposed list, that small group of people gets to put a larger group of people — possibly unwilling people and their families, at risk of harassment or assault. While I am sure the medal recipients themselves may not care, what about their family members? Like I said above, with that one random name I picked, I got all the dude’s family info as well, all through public online databases.
I am not a terrorist or anti-war activist. But if I can find this stuff out, so can they. So I ask that the powers that be not go through with this.
El Mirage, Ariz.