Military Impostors Are Neither Few Nor Proud
Mary Schantag, co-founder and researcher for the POW Network, said her group’s Web site lists 3,500 “phonies and wannabes” who claim to be former prisoners of war, medal recipients, members of elite forces or heroic combat veterans. She said she receives new allegations daily.
“This is an epidemic,” said Schantag, who is based in Skidmore, Mo. “It’s almost a mass identity theft of people who earned their status as heroes.”
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“It pretty much boils down to ego, women or money,” Schantag said.
Many impostors get away with their claims for years because the military does not keep a list of most medal recipients. Sterner, who pushed for adoption of the Stolen Valor Act, is now campaigning for legislation that would require the Pentagon to maintain a list of all the men and women it has honored.
“How many people do you see out there claiming they won an Academy Award and didn’t?” he asked. “None, since there is a list of Academy Award recipients. How many phonies are claiming Silver Stars? They are all over the country because there is no list of Silver Star recipients.”
Sterner has compiled his own list of more than 26,000 medal winners and posted it on the Hall of Valor Web site, sponsored by the Military Times. Members of the public can search the database to verify the names of true medal winners. Earlier this month, AMVETS launched ReportStolenValor.org, where people can report suspected impostors.
Phi Beta Iota: Marcus Aureleus flagged this one, and we’d like to add to it the dismal lack of coverage of our suicides and amputees, two sides of the four-sided human cost of war that is almost deliberately concealed. See those stories below.