Valor Thieves

There has been much published about Valor Thieves and why they do it. It’s a baffling condition to many of us, especially when military veterans whose military service appears quite honorable, even worthy of great honor, add to the accolades they legitimately earned.

Whether we believe that lying about one’s military service stems from a character flaw, a lack of morality, or something else entirely, it is always a choice. No one forces anyone to tell a lie. There can even be some pretty good reasons to lie occasionally when the truth might hurt someone. Again, the point here is not whether it is ever OK to lie but that to lie or not to lie about anything is always a choice.

Why would anyone select to lie about things which are easily verified, such as military service? What is so appealing about military service that folks who have none pretend that they did what a relatively small percentage of the population have done?

It is part of the human condition that we belong to something greater than ourselves. That is why we have so many social, service, and interest groups in our communities. We get to choose to join the Boys Scouts, a particular church, the American Legion or even a street gang if we meet the criteria to join.

What is it about military service that makes it so attractive to posers? My bias may be showing here, but all military service, even the lowliest recruit supply clerk, belong to a warrior class that only a very few civilian occupations can remotely claim. (One can successfully argue that at least some inner city police and firefighters also belong to this warrior class, but in a much less global way.) Within military service there is a continuing argument about which of us is the most warrior-like, of course, but that is not the basis of this discussion. I am assuming today that by virtue of each of us having sworn to uphold the Constitution, conduct ourselves honorably, follow the orders given us even if those orders put our lives in jeopardy, that we chose to belong to a group to which only those who took those oaths can belong. In other words, we were all prepared to give our lives for each other and our country. Most of us did not have to prove it, and for that we are grateful.

Veterans of military service have a bond which transcends rank, branch of service, honors earned, and all other factors. We belong because of what we were willing to do, not what we did. Yes, some among us are held in higher esteem because of what they actually did but that takes nothing away from the simple fact that we were all willing to give our all if the circumstances required it. We are forever bonded because of it.

That is what the posers and valor thieves will never understand. The bond we have among ourselves cannot be faked. The posers want it but no matter how many lies they tell they cannot have it. It is ours alone. We earned it.

What is becoming increasingly obvious is that among posers and embellishers a new pecking order is developing. We currently have a group of embellishers who have found each other and are working together to neutralize the truth of their own misdeeds. They have pretty much excluded from their ranks the posers with no previous military experience. Is that because the bond they had with the rest of us who do not lie about who we are and what we did is even greater than the bond they feel with liars in general? Could be. They seem to have lost their way from the days in which they understood honor and sacrifice well enough to receive honorable discharges from their own military service.

Meanwhile, these embellishers are still bonded with all of us because back in the day they did step up and did serve. They remain among us even when they behave badly. Some of them are doing everything they can to dishonor themselves and their service, but in spite of it all, they are bonded to the rest of us. We will continue to hold them accountable for the lies they tell today and we will continue to honor them for what they did when called upon to behave honorably.

Pity the Valor Thieves who will never “get it,” those liars who are not now nor will ever be bonded with all of us who are serving or have served in the military. Some day perhaps some of them will understand that to have the respect from others that they covet so much they must do something which would garner the respect of others. Maybe on that day they will finally quit lying about their mythical military service.

Whether the lies continue or not is the choice of the individual Valor Thief. Whatever they decide we will continue to expose their lies because it is the honorable thing to do. They decided to risk the hurt of living a lie. How long that hurt continues is also their choice.

And may all have a Blessed Easter!


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2 Responses to Valor Thieves

  1. Ponsdorf says:

    Thought long and hard about responding. I never comment on such at TAH. In a sense I’m repeating what you said very well, but with a somewhat different emphasis.

    Some valor thieves are outright crooks and should be treated as such. Sadly, any list of that ilk would be long and I would support ANY legal penalties imposed after a fair trial in front of a jury – maybe not of his peers, but made up those that were defrauded.

    Some valor thieves are just assholes and/or fools. Chiding and ridiculing this sort gives me little pleasure (since they’ll likely never “GET” it anyway), but I can understand the urge.

    The last portion amounts to low hanging fruit. Easy to pluck, tasty to the tongue, but oddly unsatisfying.

    Some drunk in a bar making empty boasts. Someone so insecure they need to live a lie because their real life is so disappointing. With this last group the WHY may matter.

    So I won’t just use a blanket condemnation as some seem to do.

    Thanks for the post, BTW, it needed saying.

  2. OWB says:

    Must agree with your take. We are both old enough to remember the completely harmless guys from the 50’s who may or may not have claimed military honors, but we all knew they had none. More often than not, those guys would have been called “a little touched” or “addled.” Those poor souls just were not true valor thieves as those are defined today.

    Am coming around to seeing the wisdom of the Supremes shooting down the Stolen Valor Act for the same reason I am against so-called hate crimes. If fraud is committed, file charges for fraud. The why of the crime might be relevant in sentencing, but the original crime is that of fraud, murder, or whatever and should be tried on the elements of that crime.

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