Even Among Active-Duty Troops, Stolen Valor Can Be A Problem

Embellishing, or even outright fabricating war stories — contemporarily referred to as stolen valor — has gone on as long … Continued

Even Among Active-Duty Troops, Stolen Valor Can Be A Problem

Embellishing, or even outright fabricating war stories — contemporarily referred to as stolen valor — has gone on as long as there have been wars. What some don’t realize is that this can occur among veterans and active-duty personnel as well. Ashley Rowland of Stars and Stripes looks at the story of Damian Barbee, an E-8 who was charged in May about lying on his service record. He was charged for falsely claiming to have earned a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Master Parachutist Badge and an Army Commendation Medal with combat “V.”

Oh, and his Ranger tab was fake, too.

“In many cases, there’s a very clear and specific financial gain that they’re seeking. For others, there’s something about wanting to be perceived as a hero, to have people look at them with admiration,” said Christopher Frueh, a psychologist at the University of Hawaii, adding that the lie “becomes a narrative, it becomes a story, an excuse, an explanation, a way of filling some other gap.”

After he was caught and charged, Barbee was demoted to the rank of staff sergeant and sentenced to hard labor for three months.

James Clark

James Clarkis the Deputy Editor of Task & Purpose and a Marine veteran. He oversees daily editorial operations, edits articles, and supports reporters so they can continue to write the impactful stories that matter to our audience. In terms of writing, James provides a mix of pop culture commentary and in-depth analysis of issues facing the military and veterans community. Contact the author here.

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