I happen to know a person who claims to be a veteran of the U.S. armed services, but I am a bit suspicious of this claim.
For one thing, this person is a what you would call a ‘blowhard’, and I’ve caught him telling B.S. stories before.
Furthermore, he often relates his experiences is ways that appear to be ‘fishing for a compliment’, such as statements like “I don’t ask to be thanked for the sacrifices I made. I didn’t view my experience as a ‘job’, I saw it as an opportunity to protect the precious freedoms I inherited as an American by those who came before me and laid down their lives in the line of duty.”
Are there any websites where you can type in a persons name and find out whether or not they actually served in the military?
Unfortunately the conclusion I came to was if you can’t find a guy’s name on the Web by some chance, you’d need his permission to get his DD214 (or at least his SSN) so it’s kind of hard to get the info you need.
Here is a website that has links to a couple of sites that tell how to bust a wannabe-veteran or will search for you if he is claiming that he was SF.
Another thing is ask him where he served and with what unit-most civilians have no idea how military units are designated. If he says he with 3rd Armor Division, ask what battalion (If Army, he should be able to answer something like: Bravo Company 5/18 Infantry which was with 3rd Brigade 3rd Armor). Ask for pictures, every vet I know has at least a few pictures from when they where in the service. Ask if he has his DD-214 (discharge document)-most wannabes have no idea what it is but every vet does.
Finally, if he has a really wild story-like my cousin’s husband*-then it is almost a 100% that he is a wannabe.
*he was a Green Beret/Ranger who also did Seal and Marine Scout-Sniper schools. He also flew an Apache and he did all of this as an enlisted man in 4 years. I want to strangle the guy everytime he talks about his time in the Army.
It’s very tough to get proof of service on someone who is still alive and not related to you. There are a lot of people out there who claim to be what they aren’t (or weren’t). Unfortunately, there are also a lot of veterans out there who embellish what they did or just plain make stuff up based on other people’s sea stories. So even if the guy is actually a veteran, that’s no guarantee that he’s not bullshitting you. People like that are called wannabes.
Short of calling him on it and saying “let me see your DD214 or an LES”, the best way to ferret out a wannabe is to ask a lot of questions and ask for details. Eventually, wannabes usually get flushed out by someone who WAS there or DID that. Maybe if you post some of the guy’s stories here some of the veterans (and there are a LOT of them) can help you separate the wheat from the chaff, or give you some questions to ask the guy.
Don’t discount the possibility the fellow may well be a veteran, but served as a desk jockey somewhere deep in the Pentagon, where his worst peril was the ever present danger of a serious paper cut. While I can’t claim to know anything about serving in the military, I suspect these guys are “looked down upon” by actual combat vets. Then again, I could be totally off base …
I’d like to add my two cents, agreeing that your choices are to ask to see his DD-214, or just ask a lot of detailed questions. One thing to remember, even if you’re not familiar with the TLA’s (three letter acronyms) and such that he’ll be throwing around is that even with a vet who’s BSing you, it’s rare for a liar to be able to keep all the details of his lies straight.
The information you can get from a Freedom of Information Act request to the National Personnel Records Center, without the veteran’s cooperation, includes name, branch of service, date of induction, date of discharge, rank or grade at discharge, medals or honors won.
What Omnipresent said about support people. My brother just went into the Air Force, and EVERYBODY who has heard about this has asked (often in a hushed, worried voice) if he’s going to Iraq. NO! (Unless something weird happens and he’s ordered to, of course, but I sure hope not.) Out of all the people in the military about 50,000 are over there right now (that’s the number I heard, could be wrong, but I wouldn’t go much higher). He’s going to be a computer programmer. The situation, I suspect, would have to be BAD before he’s anywhere NEAR actual combat.
Hell, poor kid, after tech school he’s going to Nebraska. Ouch.
And “wannabes” like I’ve learned about from this thread can…oh, heck, this isn’t the Pit.
Never did this before, I hope this link works. The author of the book Stolen Valor was able to get the records of over 1500 suposed vets and he exposed many as frauds. The page above gives a brief outline as to how he did it. Its a great book too.
I think what Ponder Stibbon was referring to is people who are actually veterans but claim to have done things they haven’t. I personally know of two people who, having washed out of their BUDS (Navy SEAL) training, went around claiming to have been SEALs. This does in fact make real Navy SEALs very angry.
Your point is well taken, but I’ll go one further. EVERYONE serving in the US Armed Forces, regardless of branch, rank or active/reserve status (and yes, that includes the National Guard) is a POTENTIAL combatant. whiterabbit, your brother is probably not too likely to see combat in Iraq…but it IS a possibility, however unlikely. Everyone who joins the service takes the same oath, whether they signed up for sniper school or supply school. Everyone is bound by the same Uniform Code of Military Justice and the same Code of Conduct. A perfect example of this is the members of the maintenance battalion who were captured in Iraq last year. They were support personnel and they performed their duties as soldiers, just as they were trained to do. I’ll bet there are more than a few computer programmers deployed to CENTCOM or the various intelligence HQ’s in Iraq. Those guys are a bit more likely to come under enemy fire than the guys in Nebraska, but that doesn’t diminish the service of the guys in Nebraska - because guess who those support people are supporting?
And that’s exactly why I have a problem with wannabes. If you can’t be proud enough of your own service to tell the truth about it then you are insulting everyone who ever did your job, in addition to those who have actually done what you claim to have done. The “desk jockey” who claims to be combat infantry because he thinks it’ll get him attention and respect is saying that all of the other “desk jockeys” aren’t worthy of attention and respect. And that’s my sore spot.