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Purple Heart Phony


Last updated 11/25/2020 at 11:23am

With snow expected that afternoon, I suspected the veteran crew might not have shown up outside the coffee shop, but there they were, socially distanced around the sidewalk. And they were in the middle of a hot conversation when I stepped up.

The topic was a guy who had potentially faked his military history and worse, had claimed he was a Purple Heart recipient, this time right here at home.

“He’s in our VFW. We took him in.”

“He needs to be brought down, if he’s a liar.”

“So, do I make the call? I’ll be calling in a favor if I do.”

The group took a vote, going around the circle. It was 100% to find out once and for all if their fellow veteran was indeed a liar and a thief.

The main guy slid a phone out of his pocket, stabbed in a number, said a few words, listened and then hung up.

I can’t repeat here his exact angry words, but the summary was: Their friend and fellow veteran had lied. He hadn’t served where he’d claimed he had, hadn’t had the MOS he’d claimed he had, and he certainly had not earned a Purple Heart.

MOS is a code that identifies the job someone has in the military. This particular veteran had worked in supply at a small CONUS base. Unless he’d gotten a paper cut while stocking shelves, he’d never been wounded. Somewhere there was a faked DD-214.

I tossed my coffee cup in the trash and walked away, leaving the group to their collective misery while they explored just how they’d been taken in. I’d heard the story too many times. Veterans and those who’d never served claiming benefits, medals and admiration they never earned, enjoying a higher-level Priority Group at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical center, telling tall tales.

Eventually they get caught, like this phony just did, by people who pay attention to their gut feelings. The Stolen Valor Act would take it from there.

(c) 2020 King Features Synd., Inc.


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