“It is appalling that anyone would ever fraudulently claim to have received such a tremendous honor. By doing so, these impostors seek to detract recognition from the brave men and women who have heroically served our nation. I look forward to working with Mr. Sterner and others to see that a system is put in place to deter false claims by recording all true recipients of this award.”
REP. DOUG LAMBORN, R-COLO, Armed Forces & Veterans Affairs Committee

 

DD-214s
And the Problem with using them for verification

The DD-214 (or corrected DD-215), is a resume of military service. The form contains the veteran's name, when and where they entered service and were discharged, the nature of discharge, MOS (Military Occupational Specialty), Special Schools attended, decorations earned, etc. The ONLY information on a DD-214 that is NOT publicly releasable information is the Social Security Number and Date of Birth of the Veteran. (Prior to 1968 the military used SERVICE NUMBERS, which ARE releasable, but after converting in 1968 to using the SSN, this information is usually blacked out on a distributed DD-214.

"Let me see your DD-214," is a common request. One hears it when:
     *  A Veteran applies for V.A. Benefits
     *  A Veteran applies at DMV to get special plates for their car
     *  A Veteran applies for membership in a Veterans' Organization
     *  The medals worn/claimed are in question

dd214_moore_phony.jpg (201664 bytes)In the election of 2006 Ed Moore, former Boone County (KY) Republican Party Chairman, ran for City Clerk, touting his status as a Vietnam War veteran who served more than TWO YEARS in Vietnam. When questions arose about his status as a combat veteran, Mr. Moore posted his DD-214 on line in his campaign website to verify his service in Vietnam. (Click on copy at right for a larger image.) 

dd214_moore_real.jpg (117067 bytes)In fact, Mr. Moore DID serve in the Army during the Vietnam era but he served only seven days overseas - all in Europe - while he was in the Army. One of the first tip-offs for me when I was sent Mr. Moore's DD-214 shown above was that he mis-spelled the Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnam Campaign Medal as "Metals." A FOIA request by Mary Schantag revealed the TRUE nature of his service (at right).

dd214_moore_assignments.jpg (87187 bytes)After exposure Mr. Moore apologized for his crime and withdrew from the political race. Despite his withdrawal from the race, he still won 11,167 votes, just 118 fewer than his Democratic opponent. Apparently the local voters didn't think claiming to be a Vietnam Veteran was that serious a crime. The courts did! Moore pleaded "Guilty" to a single count of fraud for altering his military discharge record to falsely show the in-country record. In exchange, prosecutors recommended the community service - 350 hours in the next year at a veterans hospital or nursing home.

dd214_mitchell.jpg (308299 bytes)In this age of Computer generated documents, it is a very easy matter to alter or even to create from scratch, a bogus DD-214. At the right is a DD-214 sent by Lloyd Keith Mitchell to the young woman to whom he was proposing marriage. Mitchell is reportedly a commercial airline pilot (cargo) and former NRA Instructor. In addition to this DD-214 which shows he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and earned TWO Navy Crosses, he provided the citation for ONE of those awards. When I received it I checked it against my database and found it to be word-for-word, save for the name, the LEGITIMATE Navy Cross Citation for the award presented to then Congressman Randall Duke Cunningham. Prior to the Stolen Valor Act what Mr. Mitchell had done was NOT illegal--his altered DD-214 was NOT used (to our knowledge, to obtain VA benefits or for other fraudulent financial gain. (Those who understand awards will find interesting that he lists his TWO Navy Crosses and TWO Silver Stars as "w/Clusters"--the Army and AF use an "Oak Leaf Cluster" to indicate a second award, while the Navy and Marine Corps use a "Gold Star" in lieu of a second award.

In our page on V.A. Fraud you will find that such bogus DD-214s and other discharge paperwork are ACCEPTED at V.A. facilities as evidence of service, wounds, even former Prisoner of War Status. Some of the cases cited there are linked to images of the forged documents.

SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES

On December 8, 2005, the  Northwest Herald announced, "(Illinois) Secretary of State Jesse White wants Marengo Alderman Werner "Jack" Genot to be the last person in Illinois to acquire military license plates falsely. Angered by Genot's confession that he acquired Purple Heart and ex-POW license plates with forged discharge papers, White announced Wednesday that he would submit legislation to the General Assembly next month to make the act a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine..... " The Rockford Register-Star wrote: "A Marengo alderman, exposed last week for fabricating a military record, attended counseling sessions here that are supposed to be for veterans who have seen combat and struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Jack Genot, 71, went to meetings at the Vet Center Outstation in Rockford under the guise that he was a prisoner of war as a Marine in Korea in the early 1950s."

For half-a-century Jack Genot was the "face of the Marine Corps League" in his home town, a vaunted hero of the Korean War where he was captured (at the Chosin Reservoir) and held as a Prisoner of War. His vehicles had BOTH "Prisoner of War" and "Purple Heart" license plates. In FACT, Mr. Genot served in the Army, NEVER in the Marine Corps, NEVER served in Korea, and received a less-than-honorable discharge. Illinois has passed its own state version of the Stolen Valor Act to make it illegal to fraudulently obtain POW/Purple Heart license plates, but that is only going to be effective for those who are caught. Meanwhile, without an official database and as long as a DD-214 is accepted proof, no doubt many more like Mr. Genot will be driving around Illinois.


TOPEKA, Kan. -- A Marine veteran from Kansas was sentenced to 16 months in jail for falsely claiming he received the Purple Heart for service in Iraq so he could get a special license plate. And at his sentencing Tuesday, Timothy Allen DeBusk was blasted by combat-wounded vets for staining the honor reserved for those wounded or killed in action. DeBusk pleaded guilty in September to fraudulently trying to obtain a Purple Heart license plate for his car. DeBusk, 27, was a sergeant when he was an active-duty Marine but was wasn't wounded while serving in Iraq.

WHAT KIND OF MAN DOES THIS? DeBusk was also charged last year with pulling over a car and flashing a badge identifying himself as a federal law officer. He paid a $318 fine for impersonating an officer.

Veterans Organizations 

Initial reports indicate that Michael Fraser, referenced in our pages on Accuracy in Media, is PAST COMMANDER of his local VFW Post. Reasonable based upon his TWO distinguished and decorated tours of duty in Vietnam. He is but one of perhaps thousands of members of such organizations, often OFFICERS in such organizations, who obtain membership based upon fraudulent information. 

The NATIONAL LEGION OF VALOR is the Congressionally Chartered organization for recipients of our top VALOR Awards, the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross. Full membership (there is an Associate Membership for family members of recipients) is open ONLY to recipients of those awards.

sawyer_lov.jpg (130940 bytes)Though I am NOT a recipient of those awards or a member of LOV, they send me their periodical publication each month. In the January 2007 issue LOV announced, among their other recently joined members, the membership of World War II Navy Cross Marine Raymond Sawyer. The announcement included his photo and citation. Upon finding Mr. Sawyer was NOT in my own database of Navy Cross recipients, I advised the Officers of the Legion of Valor that I suspected Mr. Sawyer was a phony, and they immediately launched an investigation.

sawyer_newspaper.jpg (504668 bytes)In fact, Mr. Sawyer provided discharge records and citations to verify his service and Navy Cross Award. One would think it an easy matter to track, only some 7,000 Navy Crosses have been awarded in history. In Mr. Sawyer's home town the newspaper announced his acceptance into the Legion of Valor with, as you will see from the link at right, a pretty impressive resume.

Getting a verification one way or the other on Mr. Sawyer took THREE MONTHS and, by early May the FBI had obtained Mr. Sawyer's REAL records (he did serve as a Marine, received a slight wound in World War II but did NOT get the Navy Cross), and planned to contact him and file charges as part of their Memorial Day Blitz. When they went looking for him at his home in Arvada, Colorado, he was nowhere to be found. Within two days he was however located--in jail in Arizona. Seems that in March detectives had contacted Mr. Sawyer about a Cold Case file involving the death of his first wife nearly two decades earlier and, in that interview, Mr. Sawyer finally confessed to murdering her.


thibodeau.jpg (229482 bytes)In Atlanta, Georgia, Richard Thibodeau was an honored member of the Marine Corps League, recipient of the Navy Cross and numerous other high awards. His citation was printed in dinner programs and even hung in a place of honor at a local museum. In fact, Mr. Thibodeau has never served in the Marine Corps--it was all fraud. 

The same was true with St. Louis, Missouri, purported Navy Cross Recipient Michael Weilbacher, who was questioned about his awards after someone at the local Marine Corps League felt something was out of place. FBI agents verified that Weilbacher was NEITHER a Navy Cross Recipient or a Former Marine. He was arrested by an FBI Agent, who was himself a Former Marine, after being lead out of a Marine Corps League meeting he was attending.

ABC NEWS reported on Weilbacher's arrest under the headline: Fake Marine -- Too Fat to Be Real

ABC NEWS also reported on the exposure of another Phony Marine, Gary Lakis, who was photographed with then-Marine Corps Commandant General James Jones, and was awarded a multi-million dollar contract to teach marines special warfare operations, based upon his own combat record that had netted him the Silver Star and multiple Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts. In FACT, Lakis did serve in the Marine Corps for 10 years, but never served in combat, never heard a shot fired in anger, never earned the Silver Star, Bronze Stars, or Purple Hearts that he wore on his uniform to mark him as an experienced combat Marine. To see a VIDEO NEWS REPORT on Mr. Lakis, go to the page above for Mr. Weilbacher and click on the related link in that story titled: Video Fake Medals, Phony Hero


If there was a national database of award recipients, no longer would the clerk at the Department of Motor Vehicles ask someone for a DD-214 in order to verify their entitlement to a Purple Heart, POW, or other veteran-related license plate. Access to the National Database would immediately verify qualifications, and weed out phonies. The above are only a few examples of those caught. We suspect there are THOUSANDS still out there who continue to escape exposure for the lack of any National Database of Awards.

Furthermore, a national database would provide VETERANS ORGANIZATIONS like the VFW, American Legion, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Legion of Valor, and others, with an accurate measure of an applicant's qualifications to join that organization.

 

 

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There are MANY good REASONS for Congress to Pass the Roll of Valor Act. Below are links to FOUR that quickly validate the need for a National Database of Military Awards.

Real Heroes Found

Phony Heroes Exposed

V.A. Fraud Dollars Recovered

Accuracy in Media Stories

The Problems With:

DD-214s

FOIA

News Stories on the Roll of Valor Act

 

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