Stolen Valor has long been a problem but it isn’t a new one.  Somewhere a long time ago a Roman soldier probably exaggerated who he was with or what he did, bottom line folks have lied about their service for as long as armies have fought one another.

In recent years, lets say since the start of GWOT, the frequency and pervasiveness with which it has reared its ugly head seems to be growing.  It needs to be exposed when discovered and those claiming something other than what they did should be called on the carpet.

But what happens when it isn’t stolen valor, but rather a rush to judgment or worse character assassination?  Such was the case for Marine Veteran Michael Delfin who fought in Fallujah, Iraq, when at a bar in Sacramento an airman asked to see an active duty CAC card.  Delfin, who by now was out of the Corps and only had a VA card was accused of lying about being in Fallujah and partaking in Stolen Valor.

As Delfin was leaving the parking lot the Airman and one of his friends jumped him in the parking lot.  They broke his tibia and jaw and beat him senseless, Delfin, filed a police report.

Then there’s Vietnam veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient 66 year old Jack Hughes.  Two other younger marines assaulted Hughes when he arrived at Jacksonville Airport wearing his ribbons on his suit jacket.

They said, “Your ribbons are crooked.  You’re a fake and a phony.”  One of the men ripped his ribbons off his jacket with stunned onlookers.  Police finally intervened and Hughes wanted the man arrested, however, the officer said it was a simple assault, which is only a misdemeanor.

The incident triggered Hughes’ PTSD based on what he faced when he returned from Vietnam in the 1960’s.  The Recon and Sniper Foundation helped get him a new suit and helped him cope with the trauma.

I too have been accused of Stolen Valor.  A former employee and fellow Marine Scout/Sniper and self proclaimed Google god who worked for me as my Chief Information Officer spread a fake biography about me.

Shortly after he was let go and subsequently sued, two of his friends and fellow “Stolen Valor Bloggers” spread a completely fake and bogus biography about me claiming that I was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart.

As someone who had access to the entire company’s email, website, SEO, SERP and entire back end proprietary and confidential data, he tried taking the company over with an angel investor friend of his.  After obtaining a federal restraining order enjoining them and suing them in Federal Court, the defendants settled, leaving over $2M in the company and turning over any interests they had.

One of the blogs purported that I was a Subway Sandwich Shop Commando.  In it, an anonymous female approached the blogs attorney (and fellow vet) to shed light on my derring-do exploits.

One site actually did a good job in my eyes of outing these phonies, until they compromised themselves and ran with this BS story about me

I used to actually own and operate several very successful Subways. I sold my last Subway in 2008 so this salacious story about Stolen Valor was out there for over 4 years before she went to one of the blogs and never made anyone’s radar?  Yep I’ve got some ocean front property for you here in Arizona.

Supposedly, I was awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart, neither of which is true.  Let me say that again, it’s complete BS.   A former Force Recon Marine and Scout/Sniper involved in Stolen Valor, huge story right!  Since the story went viral 5 years ago no FOIA has been conducted to date nor requested as they said they would.

No one contacted me asking to verify the accuracy of this “anonymous females” allegation.  Their article claimed that my story was going to appear on the local news that never happened either.

Fellow Recon Marines, who I never met but knew from a few degrees of separation within the community, actually chose to believe this BS story about me.  Only two fellow brothers, one from 1st Force Reconnaissance Company and one from 3rd Recon Battalion contacted me asking me about it and had I heard of either of these blogs.

Tall tales and “no shit there I was stories,” have been around since the dawn of time, most of them are harmless.  I’d be lying if I haven’t told one or two in my life, about how my Scout/Sniper course was the toughest, the winds during qualifications were the strongest or that I went through the coldest and most difficult Amphibious Reconnaissance School at Ft. Story, VA.

If you’ve accused someone of Stolen Valor on your blog and haven’t backed it up with one iota of evidence and helped perpetuate your friends’ BS then you’re complicit in this growing problem.   Quite frankly you’ve lost all credibility as some sort of “expert” on stolen valor. You’re now no worse than the valor thieves by spreading completely fabricated BS.

Of course I reached out to these stolen valor “experts” you know because “X” is an unknown quantity and a “spurt” is a drip under pressure, in an effort to speak with them, but you guessed it, no luck.

What these incidents demonstrate, and I’m sure there are numerous others, is that many folks, actually almost all of them, have no clue how to handle or expose stolen valor.  Those that cite Supreme Court rulings and take it upon themselves to be some sort of Internet police, better have all your “I’s” dotted and “T’s” crossed otherwise.  It should be left to Law Enforcement to choose whether or not it rises to a criminal level.

You can follow Alex Popovic on TwitterInstagram and LinkedIn His Force Recon Association number FRA#3349

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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About The Author

Alex served almost 10 years as a Force Reconnaissance Marine and Scout/Sniper. He got out right before 9-11 and was recalled afterwards for OEF in Afghanistan and the Middle East and also the start of OIF. He recently completed his MBA and is working on attending ASU law school focusing on Intellectual Property law and helping veterans with their VA claims. He has been helping veterans the last several years with his real estate company, Semper Find My Home, for all their real estate needs and giving back his commission to them.

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