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Veteran profiled in Times-Tribune story admits he lied about military service

By PETER CAMERON | The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa. | Published: March 29, 2017

SCRANTON, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — An Army veteran profiled in The Sunday Times lied to the newspaper about his military service.

After the story published Sunday, the newspaper received messages from soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan with Matthew Gajdys and said he lied about being in combat.

When a reporter confronted Gajdys about the accusations on Monday, he admitted he never fought in combat and lied when he told a reporter he was shot in the chest but his bulletproof vest saved his life. He also said he embellished his role in killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gajdys, 35, of Dickson City, served in the Army from 2006 to 2012, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, repairing attack helicopters, said Valerie Mongello, an Army spokeswoman.

In 2013, Gajdys drove drunk and killed his friend Mike Evans, a passenger in the vehicle. The veteran served about a year in jail. A judge also sentenced him to pay thousands in restitution and fines and to serve 1,000 hours of community service, in part to share his story with others to try to prevent similar disasters. He is under the supervision of the Lackawanna County Veterans Court, attending counseling and treatment.

Veterans exaggerating or fabricating their service is a “major problem,” said James Tuorila, Psy.D., the surgeon general for the national Veterans of Foreign Wars.

“It happens too often, but it’s a small minority of veterans,” said the Minnesota-based psychologist, who has worked with veterans for decades after serving in the Army in the 1970s.

pcameron@timesshamrock.com

©2017 The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.)
Visit The Times-Tribune (Scranton, Pa.) at thetimes-tribune.com
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