How to Avoid Getting Caught as a Fake Veteran
Recently a man named Jessie MacBeth
was caught lying about his military service in a video where he described various atrocities committed in Iraq. Within one day, every aspect of his claims and public life were examined and found severely wanting.
His attempt to discredit the war did a great deal of harm to the credibility of anti-war organizations that embraced his claims. If you want to avoid a similar fate, there are several basic steps you can take to avoid discovery.
1. Do Not Lie About Your Military Service. This step is so basic that many people forget it altogether. The easiest way to avoid discovery of your lies is not to lie. The truth is a much easier story to keep straight than lies and it often has a useful paper trail that you can point to when confronted.
2. Do Your Research. If you must lie about your military service, it will take a lot longer for you to be caught if you take some time and make sure the story holds together. Regrettably, the more detailed and factual your story is, the more likely it is that the people who were there will be contacted and out you for the fink you are. When discovered, you should be ready to disappear, even if you are in Congress. The easiest way to do your research accurately is to spend several years in military service…okay, maybe not the easiest, but certainly the best.
3. Do Not Say Your Unit Activities Were Classified. Especially if you are claiming a war that is more than ten years old, nothing is worse than the old line "I can't tell you, it's a secret." Real veterans grit their teeth the instant that line is told and start their search engines. A certain Republican Congressman from Oregon discovered the hard way how badly this line is received. If you were involved in a special-ops black bag program, you're probably either dead or making six figures still doing it. Either way, nobody who does super-secret stuff talks about it, ever.
4. Do Not Play Dress Up. There are these things called "uniform inspections" that everybody in the military goes through, a lot. In them, the slightest imperfection in uniform appearance is noted and commented upon. This is called "attention to detail" and the military is really big on it. They act like their lives depend on attention to detail, mostly because their lives depend on attention to detail. Showing up in costume may make you feel important, but it makes you look like a fool to real veterans who can spot an imposter from a mile away. Once again, the best way to avoid this faux pas is to spend some quality time in the military, learning by doing.
5. Do Not Slander The US Military. If you are going to lie about the military, do not give veterans, their friends, families, loved ones, and survivors a burning desire to discredit you. Military people have been known to carry grudges for decades after being slandered and libeled. They get really touchy about getting called "baby-killer", "rapist", "murderer", "mercenary", "traitor", and "coward". Actually, they get more than touchy; they become enraged by this kind of thing, especially because it is almost always a lie. Lying like this will tend to get you caught and publicly exposed at Internet speed these days. Veterans and their families will drop everything to shut this kind of slander down. Not just because this is hurtful, but because it saps the morale of those who need it most.
Some people, including many who have actual military service, just can't help lying about their service…or at least improving on the truth to make things more interesting. Jessie MacBeth is only the latest to be caught lying about his service to gain attention, he won't be the last. Everybody has access to an Internet search engine if they don't have access to a real veteran, and fake veteran stories just don't hold up they way they used to. If you want a veteran who is opposed to the war speaking at your rally or for your organization, you owe it to your cause to make sure that they are authentic and actually speaking truth when speaking to power.
Patrick S Lasswell is a Navy veteran of Operations Southern Watch and Uphold Democracy. He once sailed by Operation Restore Hope and went to the location of Operation Just Cause only seven months after it was over. He very nearly got to go move cargo for Operation Desert Storm and might someday get mobilized for Operation Iraqi Freedom…or not. http://pslasswell.blogspot.com
Update: Thanks for the link, Sir!
I suppose I should post a permalink to Milblogs, if only so I can find it faster.