In the U.S., perhaps more than most western countries, we have a lot of respect for veterans of the military. Whether they served in World War II, Vietnam, Korea or one of the middle east wars, military service is a definite badge of honor, and garners instant respect.
While that’s a good thing, it can lead to unscrupulous people claiming to be war veterans, even if they have never served, or worse, if they have been dishonorably discharged. Here’s why you should check military records before taking claims at face value.
Veterans Deserve Deference
It takes a special kind of person to choose to serve in the military. Entering the military voluntarily, knowing that at some point, you may be called upon to serve your country in ways that civilians cannot begin to imagine is a monumental step, and it’s normal and right that our service members get respect and deference.
While we’re the first to admit that service members are special people, we’ve also seen a lot of half truths and whole lies. We all want to believe in our heroes, but the truth is that falsifying heroic history hurts those people who have genuinely gone above and beyond for our country.
The Grander the Story, the More Suspect It Is
It’s not just embellishing service records that is problematic when it comes to military veterans, but also those war stories that are completely made up. Some people think that no one would dare to make grand claims, simply because the likelihood of being found out is that much higher. The truth is, however, that the grander the claim of heroism, the more likely it is to have been embellished, exaggerated or based on an outright lie.
Some of the fake war stories out there have been shockingly brazen, starting with Walter Williams, who claimed to be the oldest living Civil War veteran until his death in 1959 (he was five when the war ended), to actor Brian Dennehy, who falsely claimed to have Vietnam tours under his belt. The only real way to be sure who you are dealing with is to run a discrete and thorough military records check.
Record Can Reveal Secrets
Not all claims of military heroism are false, but many people choose to be hazy about their less-than-stellar achievements and moments.
One of those instances is when the person you are dealing with faced dishonorable discharge due to misconduct. While they might have done those heroic things, they might also have done some terrible things that got them expelled from the military. It’s not unheard of for people who have been on the wrong side of a war to alter the facts of their service, and again, the only way to be sure it to check military records of the claimants.
We All Want Heroes
The truth is, as Americans, we all want to believe that there are real heroes out there, keeping us safe in our homes. And there are.
For every genuine war hero out there, however, there are also some who either make their entire service history up or are less than completely honest. The only way to be sure which of these you are dealing with is to check.
Try not to think of it as being skeptical or mean spirited. Check military records before entering into relationships with those claiming hero status, and you will ultimately help to ensure that you don’t waste your time on frauds and charlatans. That gives you time and energy to do more for the true heroes, who genuinely deserve our thanks, our respect, and our help.