The VVA Veteran® Online

September/October 2016

Illustration: Michael Blaser


Quad Cities Chapter 299 recently investigated one of its own “most decorated” members. The honors he had received legitimately would make most servicemen proud. But those legitimate awards did not measure up to the attention and ill-gained admiration he received from his falsely claimed three Silver Stars, multiple Distinguished Flying Crosses, and five Purple Hearts. He also claimed to have been a “short-time” POW and one of very few veterans to have served in all four branches of the military.

It took four years of forensic document examination by military records experts and other investigators to bring this matter to conclusion. The review of records revealed forged and changed documents that had been missed in routine requests for updated DD-214s. He had layered documents into his file over time. He had fabricated documentation and had military records forged or changed to create a false military history in the official government archives. He layered fake entries into his files, then waited to see if they were challenged. If not, he requested an updated DD-214 hoping his supplemental documents were accepted. At that point he purchased his new medals. In addition to basking in the sunshine of false heroism, he reaped a harvest of unearned adulation and perhaps undeserved benefits and compensation based on falsely claimed disabilities.

Once the facts were established, the member was called in for an interview. He confessed to the charade, and the matter was referred to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The violator pled guilty to violation of the Stolen Valor Act.

Patterns of behavior displayed by many Stolen Valor practitioners include:

  • Being heavily involved in chapter matters
  • Going to great lengths to create a bogus paper trail
  • Being personally engaging
  • Wearing bogus awards openly, hoping not to be challenged
  • Desiring adulation
  • Having a strong sense of entitlement
  • Being in denial and not admitting to wrongdoing
  • Claiming to wear awards for those who did not get officially recognized for action above and beyond the call of duty

It is our responsibility to root out these frauds from our organization. At the same time, we must honor all who served, especially the 58,000 who did not return home.

Ray Hamilton is the former president of Quad Cities Chapter 299 in Rock Island, Illinois.

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