In the United States, thousands of cases have been brought forward over the past few years in which politicians, judges, services members and civilians have been found guilty of “stealing valor”. What exactly does “stolen valor” mean and why is this concept so alarming? Outline below is an explanation of this concept and the consequences of “stolen valor”.
Stolen valor is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or badges that they never earned and services they did not perform. This concept can range from completely fabricating a military history to simple embellishments to spice up military careers. Even those with incredibly impressive military histories can be found guilty of adding onto their accomplishments.
Why does it matter?
Besides the obvious lying, “stolen valor” can diminish the experiences of true members of the military and the difficulties they endured. These alleged experiences can distort and tarnish the accomplishments made real veterans. “Stolen valor” can also be used to sway the influence of many upper level positions in government, the military and public service.
There is not clear-cut solution to stop “stolen valor”. In some cases it is as simple as checking the records of whether an individual served in the military, what services were performed and if any awards/badges were awarded. Fact checking does not always have conclusive results. Since there isn’t a solid system in place, many instances of “stolen valor” come down to insulting or even bullying those with real and valid military careers.
Keep a watchful eye for those who might be stealing valor, but never confront them without solid and verifiable proof disputing their claims. Those who discredit the honor of an honest military career deserve to have the light shined on them.