At the popular military blog This Ain‚??t Hell, retired Army Sergeant First Class Jonn Lilyea is doing his part to end stolen valor by publicly embarrassing phony heroes who are caught in the act.
‚??I kind of have a loud megaphone to broadcast this, and I present it in a unique way so I can point and laugh at them,‚?Ě he told Human Events. ‚??That‚??s why I think my blog is the public square for stolen valor…It reminds people of the idiots who are out there doing this.‚?Ě
Lilyea said he receives four or five military fraud submissions per week from readers, from news articles to anonymous photographs. And each year, he has a bracket run-off so that his readers can choose the most infamous fraud.
Among stories collected this year:
- Tim Poe, a contestant on America‚??s Got Talent who made a play for sympathy by spinning a story about receiving a traumatic brain injury while deployed to Afghanistan. After Poe‚??s first episode aired, more careful fact-checkers found out the truth: while Poe did serve in the National Guard, he was never wounded‚??and a uniformed photo he gave NBC to air was not even him, but another soldier.
- Graham Clumpner, a Chicago activist who announced in local news that he would give back his war medals to protest NATO in May, after having deployed twice to Afghanistan as an Army Ranger. Only, Clumpner never attended Ranger school, according to records requested by Lilyea.
- Michael Hamilton, who was released from Butner Prison in North Carolina this month after being convicted of embezzling over $30,000 in disability benefits from the VA by claiming PTSD from covert operations in Laos and Cambodia. Only, Hamilton never deployed, having received a medical discharge from the Marine Corps after serving less than a year. Decades later, he would be caught masquerading in uniform with a chest full of ribbons and medals, claiming to be a retired Marine colonel.