As an honorably discharged veteran who took an oath to the Constitution, I respect the right of everyone to have an opinion. After all, wasn’t that what the Constitution was written for? Sadly, too many veterans have forgotten their oath. They want to honor their oath when it’s convenient for them. Worse, they use laws like Stolen Valor to harm other veterans and shut down discussion. The worst part I believe is that this lack of support for veterans like me who have done nothing wrong is contributing to the suicides.
Let’s face it. We’ve all been the target of gossip at one time or another. Some people simply have too much time on their hands and think they have a right to do whatever they want. What so many don’t understand is that a right to destroy the reputation of another with lies isn’t a right at all. Legally a right must be moral in order for it to be a right. That’s why so many things so many consider to be rights today aren’t rights at all.
Gossip is just gossip. It’s an act of cowardice really because it’s about talking about another person behind that person’s back. It really doesn’t mean anything except that the person doing it doesn’t have the guts to say it to the person’s face. No harm no foul.
Plenty of friends have come to me and repeated things that were said behind my back. I got a good laugh. I also learned to steer clear of the person. He or she isn’t someone I want in my inner circle giving me bad advice to serve an agenda.
What’s being done in the veterans’ community isn’t gossip. It’s malicious. It’s meant to harm. It is done for reasons unknown to me, and it needs to stop, especially if we want to end the suicides.
Often those who complain about the way veterans are treated are the ones who are driving the malicious behavior. For reasons unknown to me, those behind it often believe they have a right to attack other veterans, particularly women veterans, and they’re brutal in their attacks.
My time in the veterans’ community has actually increased my depression, and although I have continued to heal, and the triggers are less and less, I still dread speaking up on any issue anymore because the accusations of Stolen Valor from those who can’t win an argument have become far too frequent.
It’s not just name calling either. For a long time I completely shut down because I was so overwhelmed by the pain and hurt caused by those who were doing it. Women veterans have it particularly hard because our service is often seen as less than that of everyone else because there are jobs we are not allowed to perform. We often get treated as less than the women who never served, and we are often invisible in the veterans’ community.
I have learned to live with it. I’ve learned to overcome as many of my limiting beliefs as possible for what’s possible in the veterans’ community, and I have learned that there are some issues that cannot be overcome.
Instead of being seen as a veteran who might be in trouble, as a woman veteran I am often seen as a distraught woman who refuses to suck it up and deal. What I have never understood is that I was an NCO too. I listened to my NCOs, and it never made any difference to me if they were male or female. What was always important was the message not the messenger.
Defamation of character and libel are serious charges. To make libelous statements against another is to subject that veteran to public ridicule and hate. In my case, it destroyed my ability to earn a living, and now I am skeptical of ever trying to do business with veterans because so many are so difficult, or worse, everything is a scam to them even though they have no evidence at all to prove that what they are saying is true. In fact, quite the contrary.
Maybe it’s because I came out of the business community before coming back into the veterans’ community that I have a different view of things. It’s not so narrow. I see a lesson from every person I meet, and often it is what not to be. I’ve also seen some great examples along the way, and those examples had a lot of credibility in my life.
Credibility is something many veterans often derive from what they did in the military, not because what they are saying is credible. Because of it, often the least credible people in the veterans’ community are those who are relying on their MOSs as proof they are credible. They are not. Credibility comes from telling the truth.
At the same time, it’s time to stop killing the messenger. If we really want to solve the problems in the veterans’ community and end the suicides, then it’s time we did that. Every veteran deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and it’s time we cleaned up the veterans’ community, especially online. No veteran should have to face persecution for having an opinion.
This is the latest Stolen Valor law I have: Stolen Valor Act
It’s important that veterans actually understand what Stolen Valor really is. Claiming to be a veteran when you are not is not Stolen Valor. It’s fraud. Period.
Beware of the pretenders. Here are four I’ve come in contact with in the veterans’ community who like to harass honorably discharged veterans.