01 March 2011

More on Vet Posers....

From the Cop & Soldier side: For my 2 or 3 regular readers you know I got out of the “Regular Army” in the 1970’s. Since I actually joined before the Viet Nam war was over, I could have considered myself a Viet Nam ERA vet. I never chose to ever use that status when talking to people and as far as finding jobs, it did absolutely no good.

Since many years later I served in Bosnia and Iraq, I’ll gladly claim whatever status that grants me.
CI Roller Dude in Bosnia, Circa 2004
CI Roller Dude, Baghdad, IZ circa 2005

Over the last 30+ years I’ve been a cop in California, I have come across dozens of people claiming that they were some kind of war vet. In my early cop days, they usually claimed to be Nam vets. In those days, I was pretty gullible and would often believe the person’s stories. Then, a few times, I heard things that I knew could not have been possible…usually somebody spreading other bullshit I had heard before.

I lost track of how many criminals, drunks, crazies, homeless people and many “normal” people I heard make false claims. In almost every case, the person would claim something like they had served in some type of Special Forces unit—if it was Army,then they were Rangers or “Green Berets.” If they claimed Navy, it was SEALS, if it was Marines, then they were Recon or a Sniper.  If it was Air Force, then they were the Door Gunner on the Space Shuttle. 

Many times I’d get a call on a homeless person pan handling for money….holding up a sign claiming that they were a “Nam Vet and needed help.”

Since it was my police duty to contact the person and advise them that citizens were complaining, I’d get the begger’s info—date of birth etc. In most cases, I could tell since the person was really too young to have served in Nam, that they were lying. I’d challenge them on it. In most cases I found that they had never even served in the military, or, if they had, they had been kicked out early. I told them that they could not claim Vet status for begging as it was an insult to those who’d actually served in Nam and risked their lives, or gave their lives.

Several years ago I was called to a local college campus to investigate a violent student. He had gone around telling everybody that he suffered PTSD- that was why he attacked so many people and had been arrested for every single crime in the California Penal Code. When I finally arrested him and asked him about “what was your MOS in the Army Rangers---when you went to Grenada?”

He looked at me and asked what was MOS? I told him: “that is what proves you are full of shit.” He had NEVER been in the military, but he somehow had gotten a Veterans Administration medical card.
But, sadly it’s not just bums, drunks and criminals who fake being a war vet. I have run across a few cops who I figured out were also fakes. Fakes at some of the police stuff they’d claimed they’d done and a few who faked having been war vets. Many fakers start out where they may have actually been in the military during a war—but they never actually went to the war. In many cases I’ve seen them start out by putting a decal on their car, or wearing a hat or t-shirt.

After they’ve worn the sticker, hat or shirt for awhile, then some people start the think that the faker had been in the war…and it takes off from there.

I was in West Berlin, Germany in 1975 when we watched South Viet Nam fall on the news. The next day, we had an alert---loaded all our combat gear and headed to Tempelhof Air Force Base (now just an airport). We left the barracks before the sun was up…sat around the base until lunch, ate lunch, then went back to the barracks. That was as close as I got to Viet Nam.

Sonofagun …over 20 years later I did end up going to Bosnia and Iraq, twice as old as I was when Nam ended. I was lucky that I was a lot older and wiser when I went to war.  I think that helped me alot.

So, when you find a person faking being a vet….. once you are sure…challenge them in public. Simple checks: how old are they? Ask what MOS they had. Ask what unit they were in and where they served. If they are true and honest Vets, shake their hand. If they’re a fake poser….then do what you like.

On a positive note, for a REAL VET, a short time after I'd returned from Iraq, I was working my cop job.  I was called to a home where a man and his wife were having problems.  The man was a true Gulf War Vet.  When I got there, he only wanted to talk to me...because he'd read in the local paper a story they'd written about me. 

I sat and listened to him for an hour. He was a mess.  He'd never figured out who to talk to for his very real PTSD.  It turned out, that just me listening to him, relating a few of my experiences in Iraq and telling him it was OK to be bothered by what he experienced... he never had another problem. 

They lived close to the police station I had worked at...so I saw them a few times a week...walking down town, holding hands and smiling.  Life was going to be good. 


powdergirl said...

Drop one space and one "e" from your title and you have "Moron Vet Posers". Might be more accurate, no?

Here in Canada, we don't really get a lot of that, at least not in the West.

Coincidently though, I had coffee with a great old guy last night, he's 88 yo and is raising his 13 yo grandson who is on my son's hockey team. Known him for years and never heard any of his history before, as his present situation is intriguing enough for most. He's very modest and what a great guy! His eyes just lit up when I asked him where he'd served, guess people around here don't bother too much with thanking our vets. He's still a Hero today and it shows. Not many 88 yo's can manage a young teen-aged boy.

LOL, I sure can get OT can't I?

Do we get to read a modified post on that newspaper story about you?

Coffeypot said...

I'm sure you have been in the newspapers and on TV many times in your popo career. You can retire knowing you have made a difference.

CI-Roller Dude said...

PG, the modified story is: "bla bla bla bla.." the reporter spent 3 hours with me because he had no idea what I was talking about, so I had to stop and explain everything.

CP, I had my ass on the front page of the paper. There was a shooting and I was one of the first to get to the house and set up outside until we got more cops. The newspaper person was afraid of getting shot, so he stood behind me and got a photo of my ass.

We try to avoid getting in the paper because we have to buy the other cops donuts. The only reason I let the guy interview me for the paper was the chief sort of told me to do it for good PR.

Anonymous said...

1. Space shuttle door gunner is totally cool. Warning you in advance am going to use the heck out of that chestnut.
2. Will give you credit if I think of it.
3. Was in college in New Mexico in April of 1975 when SVN went down.
4. As much as I hated the place, was totally bummed.
5. My solution to that was to become one of those folks you like so much.
6. Actually didn't need an excuse. Did that a lot anyway, back then.
7. Miss having an excuse for being stupid and belligerent.
8. Speaks well of you that the My Service Pride people contacted you.
V/R JWest

CI-Roller Dude said...

Mr West, I took that "door gunner on a space shuttle" line from a former Marine who was only good at bullshitting people.
I think that company sent that e-mail to all their customers.

Wrexie said...

I met a genuine 90+ year old vet the other day at work. (I don't think he should have to pay taxes..but I just work there).
Anyway... turns out he was a photographer in WWII. We talked and I found out I missed picture day when he brough his photos in the office not too long ago. darn. I asked if he'd bring them agian...if he wrote a book??? yep. and the History channel or one of those.. is doing a story on him soon. I could have talked to him all day...

Oh, and btw, RD...you are very gifted in the way you can help vets. :)

Hogdayafternoon said...

"telling him it was OK to be bothered by what he experienced... "

I have always believed that 90% of the cure for PTSD is contained somewhere within the sufferer's circle of close buddies. Finding out that it's the incident that was crazy, not your reaction to it,and that others have `variations on the same theme` feelings goes a long way. Thankfully I've never had to go into military combat but I've seen enough pain and destruction in civilian life to believe that.

Jay said...

I like the way your story ended. If someone without your life experiences had taken the call I wonder if that Vet would ever made it out of the cycle he was in. Listening is definitely an underrated tool. Well handled. You really deserve a pat on the back for that one.
It's a worry though when you think there must be more War Vets out there either not recognising the problem and / or not knowing where to turn for help.

Anonymous said...

1. Sounds like he's one up on me in the skills department.
2. Make that skilz in daughter-speak.(She reads these things -make that supervises)
3. Anyway, got a laugh suggesting the space shuttle door gunner as a future occupation for a couple of our local politicians.
4. Was told the shuttle program is going pffft.
5. Figures.
V/R JWest

el chupacabra said...

Might add some of the pathetic ones- those with some type of affliction that kept them from serving can be understood/forgiven (sort of).

However, out of town on a job years ago I recall the local VFW being run by an able bodied guy who had watched as literally all his friends left for Vietnam. I only learned the truth from the father of one of his friends who had actually watched his son leave for the war. He killed himself only a short time after his return.

Predictably; the faker was a Green Beret doorgunner...

PS Another dead give away for a lying faker: they ALWAYS seem to have witnessed or participated in some heinous atrocities and NEVER seem to get that if the stories were true we wouldn't have to hear about it from those weirdos.

CI-Roller Dude said...

Wrx, see if you can look at that vet's pictures...

Hogday and Jay, it's just a matter of actulling giving a shit about other people.

Mr West, maybe somebody will buy the shuttle and fly it at air shows?

El Cu, Yep.