Over many years of my life, I have followed several political campaigns from candidates of both parties. Many candidates display quite an impressive Military Record as part of the reason they should be elected, or so it seems.
While we have had many honorable people elected who performed heroic feats in their Military Service, some have either lied or grossly exaggerated their service in hopes voters see them as brave and honorable soldiers, ready to fight for the voters.
In my opinion and many others, doing so is a grave disservice to voters. It is false advertising, selling us a bill of goods while unable to actually deliver.
No one who ever served honorably should be ashamed of what they were assigned to do while serving, all jobs being necessary to complete even the smallest mission. From Company Clerks to Cooks, Motor Pool Mechanics to Artillerymen, Supply Clerks to Infantry, each and every job is important and must be performed so the mission can be successfully accomplished.
So, why do some feel the need to exaggerate their service?
I guess they feel it makes them brave in the eyes of others. It’s one thing to spin such yarns to your children or friends and neighbors, even at the VFW bar where we can easily pick out such braggarts by their ridiculous claims. But, to sell yourself to the public by either exaggerating your service, or omitting the truth of your service allowing others to assume you served in war, when you did not, is taking on to yourself something for which you are not entitled.
Look at the recent news of Connecticut’s Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, who gradually insinuated he served in Viet Nam when he never did. Or Mark Kirk, who overly boasted of a minimal unit citation as if he were personally awarded a citation of high merit.
Think back to 2004 and the claims made by Democrat John ‘F’in Kerry (who is said to have served in Viet Nam) and his being exposed by former shipmates, even though the media denigrated the shipmates, not Kerry.
Even Hillary Clinton boasted in 2008 how she tried to enlist in the United States Marine Corps, but was turned down due to wearing glasses. Then, recall her story of dodging sniper fire in Bosnia, only to be revealed a falsehood.
Some candidates hoping for office claim a disability from their time serving, revealing the nature of the injury, as former Senator Bob Dole did during his time in the Senate.
Others have not stated the injury, where it happened or how. Some have even tried the old Bovine Scatology of claiming they are not permitted to discuss where they were or how it happened, being some mythical “top secret” operation we are supposed to just buy in to.
Ask just about any Veteran who actually served in a combat zone and see how they view such claims. We know better.
Voters deserve truthful statements from candidates who claim Military Service, not bravado or even silence of where they served or how they served, especially if they make their service a major part of their campaign by claiming the rank they last held in campaign ads.
What voters don’t need is more candidates seeking office by either exaggerating or relying on lies of omission to pad an otherwise weak resume’ in hopes of fooling enough voters to see them as they aren’t.
In introducing an amendment to a war spending bill, to make inaccurate or misleading statements about one’s military service record a punishable offense, this past May, Senator Orin Hatch (R. Ut) said,
“It is sad that there are those who attempt to inflate their record and make these claims. To do that defiles the sacrifice and service of those who have served in combat. Worse yet, it dishonors the sacrifice of the brave men and women in uniform who have given their lives in combat so that the freedoms we enjoy are defended.”
“It is a crime to dishonor the sacrifice of so many by falsely representing combat service for the purposes of self-promotion or benefit. My amendment would deter those who would falsely prop themselves up in order to appear worthy of the award and title of ‘combat veteran’.”
We deserve honorable and truthful elected officials, not someone who would exaggerate a claim or make vague statements, allowing others to believe an injury received in basic training was due to combat service, when they never served in such an area.
It matters not how bold or in your face their speeches or confrontations with others in the past may be, exaggerations and lies of omission are still dishonorable and not worthy of my vote or support and in need of being exposed to voters, regardless of party affiliation.
If we are to have honorable, truthful and reliable elected officials, it should begin in honest and open representation of any Military Service claimed.