It’s Not Stolen Valor On Halloween

Lifestyle
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Stepping into BDUs and pinning a bunch of valor medals on your chest when you haven’t earned them is fucked up, and some states have even tried to make it punishable by fine and prison time.


But Halloween is one out of 365 days where this shouldn’t be an issue. It's the only time of year where civilians like me should be able to put on a flight suit and feel like “Top Gun” to escape the sad reality of sitting behind a computer screen for 16 hours a day.

There is no real legal implication for civilians who dress in a military uniforms year round. But discussion boards on sites like Rallypoint and Reddit reveal that veterans have conflicting feelings about the issue of stolen valor, even on All Hallows’ Eve. Though some find it harmless, others think it’s deeply disrespectful.

On veteran wrote, “I personally think it would be disrespectful to wear my military uniform as a Halloween costume. I also hate to see civilian adults wearing them, because I think they should know better.”

Another on the same thread said that civilians should not be allowed to wear a military uniform anytime, adding “What bothers me is if a grown man is wearing a military, police, fire, or medical uniform and has not earn [sic] it.”

And thanks to viral online media, we all know what can happen to those accused of stolen valor, between the “make him famous” posts and all the stolen valor YouTube videos.

But Halloween is most importantly a day for playing make-believe — the only day adults can escape their 9-to-5 jobs and pretend to be something they’re not.

Related: 5 Halloween Costumes Based On Military Stereotypes (That Are Kinda True) »

No one who dresses up like a naughty nurse on Halloween goes around administering flu shots or tending to wounded trick-or-treaters. Nor do people who dress like cops immediately pull out their plastic handcuffs and start arresting the scores of people who, on this particular date, don masks and commit crimes.

It’s the same thing with the military. No civilian who slips into a flight suit on Oct. 31 is going to hop into the cockpit of an F-16 and fly to Syria to fight ISIS.

When it comes to dressing up in a military costume, there are some things civilians should consider, just to be courteous. But the fear of veteran retribution shouldn’t deter anyone from dressing up on Halloween as whatever they want.

Civilians should avoid wearing real medals, and real uniforms that belonged to veterans. If you’re going to dress up, try to stick to fake apparel.

But aside from those small details, it’s perfectly acceptable to dress up as a soldier, Marine, airman, or sailor … or a sexy pilot (don’t forget the Ray Ban aviators).

It’s not stolen valor whether you see parents dressing their toddlers in camouflage or a college kid going as drunk zombie Chesty Puller.

So try to restrain yourself on Oct. 31 if you see a guy rocking a 20 medals and a Ranger tab.

But you can call out any military-clad civilian for forgetting a PT belt. Safety first still applies on Halloween.

Arizona Army National Guard soldiers with the 160th and 159th Financial Management Support Detachments qualify with the M249 squad automatic weapon at the Florence Military Reservation firing range on March 8, 2019. (U.S. Army/Spc. Laura Bauer)

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When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.

"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.

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"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."

Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."

Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."

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The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.

But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.

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The Marine Corps Exchange at Quantico (Photo: Valerie OBerry)

If you're a veteran with a VA service-connected disability rating, a former prisoner of war, or a Purple Heart recipient, the exchange, recreation facilities, and commissary on base will be opening their doors to you starting in 2020.

In what's being billed as the largest expansion of new shoppers in the military commissary system in 65 years, veterans will be allowed back into many of the same retail outlets they had access to while in uniform starting on Jan. 1, 2020, thanks to a measure put in to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

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