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Stolen Valor: The Art of Grave Robbing

Stolen Valor

Stolen Valor has become quite the thing lately.  Honestly, I’m not sure if Stolen Valor is happening more than it used to due to the recent wars or if perhaps it is just being caught more often now in the age of cell phone cameras.  But in either case, I have been both entertained and taken aback by the audacity of some of these thieves.  I call them thieves because that is indeed what they are.  They might very well have purchased every uniform item on their body, but pay for it they did not.  However, we will get to that a little later on.  At this particular moment, there is a video going around of a supposed Army Ranger Staff Sergeant shopping in a mall.  It’s quite the scene and we are going to  use that one in particular to propel us on into the rest of the article.

Fat People

Can we go ahead and be honest about this point?  What is it with fat people and Stolen Valor?  Look, I’m not trying to publicly shame anyone here and that’s why I’m opting not to post the guy’s picture here. However, plain and simple the guy was too fat to be wearing that uniform of an Army Ranger. I’m not saying fat people don’t exist in the military.  Much to our mutual disappointment, they do. And if these Stolen Valor guys knew anything about us real military people, they would know that one of the things we despise just slightly less than Stolen Valor, is fat people in uniform. You see we have a certain image that us military types like to emit and it’s more Leonidas of Sparta than Pillsbury Dough Boy.

As a Marine, I can distinctly remember a heavy set Marine Sergeant who was a very gung ho type motivated Marine whom was present at my unit when I first returned from Infantry School. By all accounts, this Marine Sergeant knew his stuff, but seemed to have a bit of a weight issue. I can remember sitting in the admin area when this Marine Sergeant approached the unit First Sergeant about extending his contract and staying another six years. The First Sergeant asked him  if he was on weight monitoring.  The Sergeant said, “Yes First Sergeant.”  To which the First Sergeant said about re-enlisting, “Then don’t bother you Fat *expletive*”.  And that was that.  This Sergeant’s Marine career was over.

So what these rounded Stolen Valor types don’t understand is that even if you were legit, you are still drawing the ire of your fellow brothers by stretching the fabric of the uniform we wear proudly.  Now again, I’m not saying you will not find warriors in varying levels of fitness.  In addition, I’m a Veteran and have been out 11 years now since I returned from Iraq.  Whereas I haven’t completely let myself go, I am not exactly running a perfect 300 PFT.  Full disclosure, I actually never scored a perfect 300, but let’s move on.  So if you have a weight issue, please, for the sake of all of us, don’t bother impersonating a US Marine because either way it just ends badly.  Impersonate the peace corps if you like, because nothing says you care about the starving nations of the world than looking like you are here to eat all their food.

Absurdity

So back to this supposed Staff Sergeant Army Ranger in the mall.  Upon being confronted, the Stolen Valor guy has answers for some of the questions being asked him.  They were incorrect answers, but this guy had clearly hit up Google to be able to say a thing or two about the military and give it a shot.  Now, for real military people, it’s really not that hard to decipher whether or not someone is legit and it’s not by asking some obscure uniform policy.  Now I’m a legit Marine Veteran, but if someone comes up to me to challenge me by asking some obscure uniform regulation or particular part of the UCMJ, then you got me.  I honestly don’t know some of these questions these guys are using to bust these Stolen Valor thieves.  We can’t all be policy experts.

However, the military is a culture and it’s quite easy to see who understands this culture and who does not.  In this case, after being pressed by the real Army Ranger, the fake Staff Sergeant says he has to go meet his Sergeant Major in another part of the mall.  Why? Because he is apparently there shopping with his Sergeant Major to which every true Veteran instantly recognized this for what it is.  Did you not just read the story about the First Sergeant that I described earlier in the article?  Does he sound like a guy that would go shopping with you at a mall?  Keep in mind now for you non-military readers that Sergeant Major is of a higher enlisted rank than First Sergeant and thus by the laws of nature at a higher level of personal disgust with your existence.  That’s how we like it in the military.  So if you are going to attempt a little Stolen Valor, then understand this.  You can Google all you want, but if you didn’t live it then you won’t fully understand it.  Million dollar Hollywood blockbusters screw this up, so what makes you think you will get it?  It’s absurd.  Stay at home and play Xbox.

The Grave Robbers

Now these absurdities are not even the worst part of what these Stolen Valor guys are perpetrating.  You see, as far as I am concerned, Stolen Valor is not an affront to the living but to the dead.  And that is ultimately what pisses us Veterans off so much about it. Now some of these Stolen Valor guys might be able to get away with it if they would just take their shot at being a new boot private.  You could shake off your ignorance by simply explaining you are a boot because by definition, boots are pretty ignorant. However, the theme is always the same with these impostors.  They claim the combat credentials that so many never had the opportunity to wear.  Why, because they paid for it with their lives.

Stolen Valor

You see the living Veterans have had their chance to wear the uniform post-combat and proudly display the honors that so few in life possess.  Consequently, no impostor can take that away from us as more than just the uniform, we have our experiences.  However, it’s the dead that have been robbed here by these thieves.  It’s the fallen warriors that never had the chance to proudly display what so few have earned.  It’s the dead that have forgone the opportunity to have drinks with their brothers after war so that the rest of us could. It’s the dead that never got the chance to feel the respect and honor from society that these Stolen Valor thieves so greatly covet.  So when a Stolen Valor impostor attempts to wear the uniform of these fallen warriors it’s as if they reached right down into the grave to rip them from their chests.  They are getting the thank you’s, the looks of respect, and the proud feeling that was taken from the true warriors by enemy action and donning it themselves. Grave Robbers, every one of them and it’s an affront to every one of us.

So this particular video ends with the true Army Ranger screaming out Stolen Valor while this impostor wobbles away to apparently go eat Chik-fil-A with his Sergeant Major.  The true Ranger screams out that his brothers died wearing that uniform donned by the thief and he is right.  So let’s call these people what they are, Grave Robbers. I am not sure the public fully recognized the term Stolen Valor so use both as you call them out.  Stolen Valor!  Grave Robber! Yell them both so that all know the travesty taking place here.  They rob from the dead to receive the respect of the living and that is as dishonorable as it gets. And if you’re fat on top of that, don’t.  Just don’t.

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Jeff Edwards

6 Comments

    • Thanks Nancy. I am open to post ideas. I think that is a great idea. You might see one coming in the future on that. Thanks.

  1. I have never heard the terminology “Stolen Valor”. I am appalled that people would do this.
    I am not a soldier, not by my choosing, and though I cannot physically stand beside my fellow American sister and brothers my heart travels with them.
    As a child and young girl I considered it an honor to serve(and still is to those who can) its all I dreamed to be, a Marine. To my disappointment it was explained my health was the denying factor. But I would never wear a uniform or imitate a soldier.The blood, limbs and lives sacrificed for the sake of peace and politics is to be held with the utmost regard and respect.
    These imitators should be brought down by every law in the book and more! They should be punished to the extreme and used as an example.
    I am saddened and bloody angry, but most of all, embarrassed to share the title “American” with these imposters!

  2. Sgt, would you be so kind to share the link to the video? It doesn’t seem to appear on this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts (and keep doing so!). My husband is The Quiet Type and I’d never truly understand him or learn anything if not for books or from vets like yourself.

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