This is a strange sign of the times. In the 80s, camouflage was in fashion and people wore field jackets with unit patches, camo pants, etc, and it meant nothing. It was just a fashion statement if not an expression of admiration for the military- or at least Apocalypse Now with its 7th Cav patch.
In the 90s, a book called Stolen Valor was published, mostly an admonishment of the media for falsely reporting military vet claims such as the case of the Edmond, Oklahoma postal shooting which led to the "going postal" phrase. The shooter was reported in the media as a Vietnam Vet and the author of Stolen Valor was unable to persuade them to correct this even though he investigated and proved it was not true.
Following 9/11, with US involvement in 2 major wars, the killing of Bin Laden by US Navy Seals, there is an epidemic of phonies claiming military service they did not actually do. Americans became very conscious of acknowledging its vets. Fakes go out to get vet discounts, or to promote a business such as "Physical Training by a former US Special Forces combat vet," only they were none of the above.
Social Media took off with this- quite a few of these so-called Stolen Valor fakes were exposed, even prosecuted, but it also went overboard- a Florida man who as a Marine vet was condemned as a fake because he couldn't remember where he trained- he was in his 80s! He WAS a legit Marine! The whole issue went overboard. A few obvious mental cases were "exposed" on social media but they weren't true Stolen Valor- they had mental issues and nobody took them seriously. Likewise, wearing a hat or shirt that says USMC is NOT Stolen Valor.
There are genuine con-artists who consciously use deception for personal gain- Don Shipley is best at this- he seeks them out and nails them. He did this in the Nathan Philips case, though it was mostly the media not Philips who made the false claims- yet he didn't exactly correct them, either.
The only places you will likely see military in uniform is near bases. They are active duty, on their way to or from base, or picking up take-out orders in local restaurants, shopping, etc.I used to visit my mom, who lived near McGuire AFB, Fort Dix and Lakehurst Naval Air Station, so military personnel in uniform were relatively common- the take-out restaurants did a good business with them. And there are quite a few reservists and they are going to or from their reserve center- there are several in my area.
A personal note: I grew up in a military family and was a cadet in a group run by both retired and active duty military; I was privileged to know or at least meet many active-duty Rangers, Special Forces, even a retired SEAL who was in the Bay of Pigs and whose photo was in LIFE magazine (he never mentioned it; I found out elsewhere). Following various events Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, we went to VFW halls and such and I met a lot of vets- a guy who had a photo of himself with JFK, he saw the PT-109 explosion, another who told me the Marines at Iwo Jima erupted in cheer as the flag was raised- he saw it himself. It was actually common to meet Korean War vets with missing fingers- they lost them from frostbite, My grandfather was a WW1 vet and as a child I visited him many times at the Lyons VA hospital in NJ. There was a large hall filled with beds, and many old timers - WW1 vets or older WW2 vets, Korean vets, and I remember seeing a really young guy, who seemed out of place, way too young to be there- a Vietnam Vet. Many were moaning in pain. I can never forget that. They deserve the best we can provide and our gratitude. People these days just don't seem to get it sometimes.They did not fight for personal glory or to be heroes. It was sacrifice. Many of course were killed and that as the end for them, dying in misery thousands of miles from home- no glory, no admiring kids seeing them in a crisp pressed uniform on parade. That is why Stolen Valor is so offensive.
· 1 month ago