Our Opinion: Honor must be earned

As you open this issue of The Chart you will find an eight-page special section entitled Life After Service, discussing many issues affecting veterans. In addition to these issues, veterans also suffer another form of indignity.

There is a segment of the civilian population who, having never served a day in the military, will tell people they are veterans. These individuals often pick the illustrious claim of being Special Forces. Perhaps seeking to garnish some attention or maybe even a free beer, they pretend to be Navy Seals, Army Rangers, or Marine Force Recon.

Adding additional insult to injury, this theft of honor is not only carried off by civilians but other veterans as well. Soldiers who may have been mechanics or reservists will lie and tell civilians that they were snipers or a members of some elite unit. Maybe these veterans feel  their real military professions are boring, or they just want to be big heroes or, yes, maybe to score the free beer.

What if instead of a beer they are taking the jobs that so many veterans are trying to acquire?

One the most publicized instances of this was the firing of Dave Canterbury from the Discovery channel reality show Dual Survivor. Canterbury had been hired based on his claims of being a scout, sniper and an Army Ranger, all of which have been documented as false. Canterbury, however, did serve in the Army, he just embellished his career.

The media has reported other instances of people impersonating veterans or even active duty military personnel.

An individual attended a VFW banquet dressed in full Marine Corps dress blues and was only caught because another veteran noticed his sword was hanging to the wrong side of his uniform.

Motivations may vary as much as the degree of their deception, but still the bottom line is they are taking for their own benefit something they didn’t earn from someone who did.

Those who masquerade in this manner have no idea the time and sacrifice members of the military pour in to attaining rank, honors or becoming members of specialized units.

There was a time in America’s history when soldiers held a special place of respect in the hearts of those who lived here. While they say imitation is the highest form of flattery, those who lie about military service only seek to elevate themselves, and our country is degraded because of it.