Stealing Your Brother’s Valor

Pretending to be someone that you’re not makes a man a fraud. Pretending that you’re a veteran when you’ve never served at all makes you a lying coward. Serving in the military and embellishing ones record for personal gain makes you a complete scumbag and an embarrassment to the military. In a recent Stars and Stripes article, a man named Timothy Michael Poe claims to have been injured by a rocket propelled grenade while in Afghanistan. According to the article he said “By the time I turned and went to jump on my guys, I yelled ‘grenade’ and the blast had hit me.” Apparently this blast ended his purported fourteen year career. “When I was laying there I thought I’d never see my daughter walk down the aisle or throw the baseball with my son or be able to hold them and see them. … I didn’t want my life to be over.”

In reality, Mr. Poe served nine years in the Minnesota Army National Guard as a supply clerk. Their spokesperson said they looked at his record “very carefully” and didn’t find any evidence of his supposed injury. They acknowledge he spent one month in Afghanistan. He wasn’t injured in combat. Period. What really pisses me off about this story is that Poe actually is a veteran. He should be commended for his nearly decade-long period of service to his country. However, exaggerating as much as he did, he should be brought back into the Minnesota National Guard, stripped of any rank and awards he had, and be publicly drummed out of the Army.

Unfortunately, this seems like a trend and not a rarity. There is always someone in military news circles who is being exposed as a fraud. The most disappointing of these cases is always the veteran who fakes his exploits for personal gain. Whether it is a politician running for office, or a dirtbag claiming Special Forces credentials to become a consultant, they story is often the same. The frauds were actually soldiers, but they somehow recreate their history with heroic exploits and daring.

Veterans and currently serving soldiers, be proud of your service and who you are. Be thankful that you were lucky enough to avoid being wounded in combat. I served as an Infantryman in Afghanistan, but I didn’t earn my Combat Infantryman’s Badge. I’m comfortable with that because I know I had an important job to do and it didn’t happen to be in a combat role. If it has ever crossed your mind to embellish your history, throw an extra tab, badge or ribbon that you haven’t earned on your uniform, don’t do it. Don’t even think about it. You are betraying your service to your country and the service and sacrifice of those who have came before you. I have been privileged to work with Soldiers who have earned Purple Hearts and valor awards. Nearly all of them would rather have not been wounded, or have had to have been placed in circumstances that warranted their heroism.

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