From the Soldier side: I had to go "play Army" this weekend. I was pretty good training and I had a chance to spend more time with my troops and learn more about some of those that are new to the unit. The food still sucks, but what the heck.
I was able to sit and talk with some other Iraq Vets. It's funny, but in our line of work (mess kit repair) it seems no matter where you go, you'll run into somebody you know, or, when talking you find you both know some of the same people.
Sometimes this is a good chance to talk about somebody who was or is a good troop. However, sometimes we learn more about some of those who are total fakes. One of those, who I'll just call "F", had been on my team back just before Nine Eleven. He had some really good bullshit stories. How could I tell they were bullshit? Because they kept changing and he kept telling people things that I knew were impossible to have been true. He claimed to have been a Navy SEAL.
This guy was a "Buck Sergeant" E-5. In the Army, you can wear your awards from other branches, but he didn't have the SEAL Trident on his uniform. He would tell anyone who would listen how he was a SEAL. But the stories kept changing. The "Team" number he had been with changed every time he told a story. He was fat, kept failing the PT test, and had a poor lack of shooting and weapons skills. I felt it was impossible for him to have been a SEAL, because every real Special Forces type I had ever known, didn't do one thing that "F" kept doing...they never bragged.
I was never in and never will be anything "special" but I have met a few who were. I felt honored to have been near them, or had them as a leader. Their good parts rubbed off if you paid attention. The real ones are good, the fake ones are less than useless.
Anyway, SGT "F" changed units after I challenged him about his lying. He went to Iraq in OIF 1, then returned making up all kinds of stories about stuff he had nothing to do with. His stories got worse in Iraq and some who were with him told me that he actually started to wear the SEAL Trident. ( we think he was actually in the Navy at one time)
There are a few blogs with info on this bullshitting asshole, but to help other find out when someone is faking, check out: http://information.usnavyseals.com/us-navy-seals-info/10-ways-to-spot-fake-us-navy-seal/
Some of this will apply to other "Special Forces". Whenever a homeless drunk tries to tell me he was a "Vet" I find most of them make it up. They usually go with telling me they were in the Green Berets, or a Marine Sniper, or some such bullshit. I like to ask about the "team" or "group" etc they were in, and watch them get confused.
I'm sorry to say, but my advice is never trust anyone who brags about stuff like this. Have them show you their DD 214 (alot will not even know what that is) or a copy of their orders for awards etc.
If you find a fake, shoot them in the gut.