Find out if someone was in the military


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Finding Someone in the Military

Historically, when military record-keeping was less accurate than it is now, some men falsely claimed to be war veterans to obtain military pensions. Such men added a few years to their ages and claimed service in obscure units. Most did not make extravagant claims, because they were seeking money, not public attention that might expose them. There were numerous U.

Walter Williams , noted below, is considered one of these impostors, though some people continue to believe his claim. In the modern world, reasons for posing as a member of the military or exaggerating one's service record vary, but the intent is almost always about gaining the respect and admiration of others. Gehring describes such people as "virtue impostors," in that they don't necessarily adopt the identity of another person, but instead adopt a false history for themselves to impersonate virtues and characteristics.

These individuals often become absorbed in a fantasy of being a veteran that they attempt to live out in real life, sometimes even inserting themselves into public events or ceremonies, or volunteering for interviews with journalists about their alleged experiences. Occasionally impostors use their claims in an attempt to intimidate others, such as claiming to be a trained sniper or ex-special forces, or use their fabricated experiences as a pretense of authority for their opinions on political matters.

Military imposters are frequently caught and exposed due to mistakes and inconsistencies in their story or behavior. For example, they may be too young or too old to have been in the war they say they were or too young for the rank they claim to be, might inadvertently profess to have been in two different places at once, or might state factually incorrect information about the war they allegedly were part of.

Among imposters that wear uniforms, they often make mistakes about the placement of patches, insignia and medals, and may have some from the wrong branch or from old campaigns they could not possibly have taken part in. Some countries have ways of verifying military service and certain claims within it.

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Other claims can be verified against public lists, such as recipients of the Medal of Honor or the prisoner of war list from the Vietnam War. Several websites are specifically devoted to verifying the claims of alleged military imposters, and if discovered to have lied, proceed to shame the perpetrator publicly.


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Accusations do occasionally backfire, with real veterans accused of being imposters. Burkett, note that some modern veterans have become hypersensitive to imposters, leading to vigilantism or even turning detection into a "hunting game.

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Under the Australia's Defence Act, , as amended, it is a federal crime to falsely claim to be a returned soldier, sailor or airman. It is also a crime to wear any service decoration one has not earned. In Canada, section of the Criminal Code makes it a crime to wear a uniform from the Canadian Forces without authority as well as any awards or marks not earned. It additionally makes it a crime to possess any fraudulent discharge papers, commissions, warrants or military ID, including those that are forged, altered or belong to someone else. In the United Kingdom, it was an offense under the Army Act to wear real or replica military decorations with intent to deceive.

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However, this law was superseded by the Armed Forces Act , which lacks this prohibition. It is still a crime in the UK for a civilian to wear a uniform of the armed forces without authorization under the Uniforms Act , [29] and false claims of military service used to obtain money or other enrichment are prosecuted under the general crime of fraud.


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  • In the United States, the Stolen Valor Act of makes it a federal offense to falsely claim to have received any of several major military awards with the intention of obtaining money, property, or other tangible benefits. Cyrus Hamilton, a character in John Steinbeck 's novel East of Eden , loses his leg in the first and only action he saw during the U. Civil War. He subsequently creates an entire military career, encompassing nearly every battle of the war, and stating that he was a personal advisor to President Lincoln.

    Collection Information

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The Guardian. Retrieved 1 February Madison Press. Skyhorse Publishing Company, Incorporated. Retrieved The Independent.

    How to Verify Military Service – Diligentia Group — Professional Private Investigator | New York

    Retrieved 30 January Verity Press. Philosophy and Public Policy Quarterly. They may include dates of birth and death, residence, names and addresses of family members, military rank and affiliation, among other details. When researching in military records, it is helpful to determine when and where in the armed service a soldier served, and whether he or she was in the enlisted ranks or an officer. Clues may be found in family stories, old newspaper clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, journals or diaries, service medals and memorabilia, and photographs of the soldier in uniform.

    The grave marker of a veteran may contain information about military service as well. Military records may have been created in peacetime or during time of war, depending on the record type, and you may even find military records for ancestors who never served. For example, the U. Many of these men were never called up for service.


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