What is Stolen Valor You Ask?

Stolen Valor, POS
  Reading time 2 minutes

What is stolen valor you ask?

Master Gunnery Sergeant Snackbar“Stolen Valor” is a term applied to the phenomenon of people falsely claiming military awards or medals they did not earn, service they did not perform, Prisoner of War experiences that never happened, and other tales of military actions that exist only in their minds.

This could be a civilian who never served in the military but is pretending that they were. It could be a civilian who never served in the military, telling stories about how their time in the military was. It can also be someone who actually served but is embellishing their military record.

In the United States, thousands of cases have been documented in recent years in which judges, politicians, celebrities, veterans’ group officials, antiwar activists, prominent people, and average citizens have been exposed for lying about their military records.

One of the most common forms of Stolen Valor is a civilian wearing a military uniform as though they were in the military.

Is It Illegal for a Civilian to Wear a Military Uniform?

The Stolen Valor Act of 2005, signed into law by President George W. Bush on December 20, 2006, was a U.S. law that broadened the provisions of previous U.S. laws addressing the unauthorized wear, manufacture, or sale of any military decorations and medals. The  113th United States Congress later passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which made it an offense to wear military uniforms with the intent to deceive others.

Under the law, a civilian can legally wear a military uniform if they do not wear it while committing fraud or any other deceitful act (this includes panhandling or begging for money). If convicted, defendants might have been imprisoned for up to six months, unless the decoration lied about is the Congressional Medal of Honor, in which case imprisonment could have been up to one year.

From time to time, I will highlight a proven case of stolen valor and help answer questions from visitors to the blog on resources to validate someone’s military service.

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