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#70 Stolen Valor


PJ dives into the world of military impostors and the vigilantes who hunt them. Plus, a dispatch from Dallas.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This episode is brought to you by better for him a new podcast from eighty people. In each episode Francesca Ramsay talks to visionaries in business leaders about mistakes. They ve made how they work their way through them and came out better for it. Listen on sport fi or wherever you get your podcast. from. Gambling is a reply on I'm here this is a video shot by Guy named Ryan Burke. At the mall and black Friday and, as it starts, Ryan is walking up to this guy in an army, for the Man Army uniforms, walking a shoe store, holding a bag and Ryan asked the guy pay. Would you mind is meeting my ten year old kid I, sir,
I am also looking me really admires guys: the army, the boy I'm showing What our Euro area diary seventy fifth, second machine, the guy in uniform, is looking for, can but Ryan just rights, pepper him with questions where'd, you get your very see. I visa Afghanistan offering you don't need to be very different campaigns. You get free regime. These right Ryan is a fact This guy, he doesn't believe him he's commenced a this stranger at the mall. Tibet is a fake soldiers, richer, combat, better able to locate again washer flax alone are shorter, took a beer.
But why Sean Beguine uniform rates is starting to look pretty scared. For some reason he keeps answering range questions, but behind his glasses, his face is restoring devour the razor state. How come on we're sure out your shirt utterly. And finally, it is very obvious, very desperate, Dodge Sean picks up his phone and actually he's getting a phone call from his staff sergeant was equal to staff sort instead, sort of these artists, Nassau machines, are trying to walk away from Ryan. The Rhine follows him and starts yelling. This is a way What will you do to renounce illegal? Because you know what I've warn that fucking, uniform and I've had frantic?
in Afghanistan, where the balkan uniform. No, you haven't you're full of shit. Well, here the stolen valor right here, stone, valor, small shit, we're in the United States Army uniform, plays the United States Army Ranger. So this videos are stolen dollar video and there is a whole world of videos like this. There are frauds out there who pretended to in the military, either because they want the discounts and benefits the veterans get or just because they want people to respect them, and there are people who are in the military or have been were very angry about it and who try to film those people and humiliate them. I've been watching these videos for a year. Something of yours, our major Europe's back. Now, what are you out of the buggy and have an old shoe that unit? I faith. You should be ashamed of yourself guy. These guidelines have on their all where
never mind the clips and I've been posted website like military, phony, dot com, fake, warriors dot, Org on Pinterest, there's a board that just stolen Valor stooges there's even one guy who only pose videos to Youtube about fake Navy seals. When I watch the videos, I don't feel mad, I'm a civilian like I'm, not the intended audience for thus breaking watching them, because if it is important to understand why the people who find them outrageous bind them so outrageous, and so I've talked to veterans, I tried to active service members and they ve been very patient with me, and they ve explained what to them. It was obvious that someone impersonating them is deeply offensive, which I get, but I
don't feel like there's a scale to this anger that fuels big and that I want to know. I finally found somebody who was able to help me start to get this guy. Who put it in terms that I can understand. First argues my name's name, but I am, I just like identify sure the bad my background as yeah. Ok, I was an army and imagery officer in the army for for seven years, in two thousand nine deployed Afghanistan with the fourth brigade. Twelveth infantry division has spent a little over a year there that also in South Korea needs out of the army. Now he lives in New York, he's a writer he actually applied, Cast called task and purpose radio and made so that if I want to understand why he wore subset about stolen valor, I needed understand what it's like to come back to civilian life. After serving when he got back
things felt different. I just remember being surprised by thing being made uncomfortable by the sort of lack of control of things that, for example, things that were unfamiliar were very, very intimidating, like white I used to volunteered at a up, and I were two, I went to do the new location of the bike. Co op and it was an it was completely new place- was really crowded. It was kind of hot inside this room and I felt felt so unbelievably uncomfortable that I had to just get out and leave What would normally be feeling Unfamiliarity for most people was a feeling of potential threats. For me, it took me a while to get used to the civilian world, need The thing that happened in the Bagshot shop. There was PTSD, but he said that even if you don't have PTSD one. The things that we heard about being home is when details military life just pop up out of nowhere.
He had this one day where he was passing through the New York Times and he sees a picture of a meadow back. A metabolic is a medical helicopter used by the military. It's a helicopter that comes out if somebody has died or if they ve been badly wounded. You dont want to see a matter back. I'm just saying the photos and seen again after two months of living in their civilian fantasy world was whose various putting it was, it was a kind of may me sweat, almost the intensity of When you see somebody wearing a uniform that may have things upon its that are familiar to you that are tied to certain experiences. I could see how they could vote could upset somebody. You have to kind of kind of multiply the intensity of that, because
for a lot of people that it's their identification with their military service with their unit is something is very, very serious. It's likely I'm not going to speak for everyone, but it's likely the most insignificant early, the most intense thing of experience in their lives, so Nate help me understand the psychology behind this. Why stolen valor makes people so mad, but these videos don't get viral by accident. They don't just get viral because of people. There is actually a pretty sophisticated, pretty organised system by which they end up out on the military internet. I charges Anthony Anderson, who runs a stolen thou website called Guardian of valor dot com and that video from them getting a guy in them. The form- and I bet forensic- here stone, Valor Ryan, who founded Centre to Anthony and Anthony's the guy who made that famous
and when he sent me the video I mean, really knew the video. What was gonna be a hit arm and between a website or facebook we probably get two to three thousand tips. A week and our website right now gets close to five million hits a Anthony doesn't just post these videos. He actually investigates the people, and now he tries to find out if, like they actually could have earned the metals that their wearing or he looks to see if there are military records that substantiate their claims, heaving stolen dollars, dangerous heavings, it's bad for civilians. To have people who are walking around pretending to be soldiers, and so for him. He doesn't want to post videos that real people up. He actually want his website to serve a larger purpose. What's the thinking behind these videos appeal? Will being confronted like what is that accomplished?
You know just like having the information about them without a video wooden accomplish what the videos accomplished is it educate people in more of away because I used the word and in the people hate using Izard entertainment value behind the video, we posted a video and after this video went viral like it did it will it actually caused representatives lawmakers to get involved with the solemn, our movement, and that one video has so far caused five new stolen. Our laws be passed and five different states that one video. What how do you know that videos done it before because I have been involved in five different interviews for those states and all the law makers that have contacted me said that media is what prompted him to push these new laws.
I see it that way, but without all the attention they spent than has been given to it. I don't think the law makers would have given it in all the attention they have given. So far. It actually used to be a federal law that, if you impersonator soldier, you could go to jail. That was repealed in twenty twelve, because this ring court said it violated freedom of speech and the law that replaces a lot weaker. So Anthony wants the states. Just pass their own stolen powers. Laws that are stricter. His plan is that the videos go viral they may, lotta people mad and then state legislators here from angry people and reform happens, but there's this side effect, which is that a lot of peace Seen Anthony's videos and ages decide to make their own not because of their interests. Local law reform, but because Wanna humiliate people and because it makes them feel like here as to do it to reveal you open up a pandora's box or that we have
do I've seen people post videos and there's one website that does it enough TAT the website several times and ask them not to push videos like that. They posted a video while back of a God, it was mentally. You could tell who's mentally unstable and he. He was basically wherein the uniform, because it to him it was more of a he looked up to gas and the military and you could tell where the guy you can tell the guy was just mentally. You know he was mainly non there and I know a contact the website and asked him. You know hey. You know please take this down. This is this is no way in any shape or form stolen bower. It's far from it does this not right? You're, making fun of this guy it makes it look bad for the stolen Balin Movement altogether, and course they wouldn't moose video. But what was their defence
but they never responded. The other thing about the copycats is that there are lots sloppy here than Anthony. I talked to this man in Ford, barbarism marine from nineteen? Fifty eight nineteen sixty four and then he had a full. Civilian career and retired, because the thing he still more proud of in his life is a service he actually still. Where's is uniform when you get to be seventy five due to the fact that you can just put forward, who could feel very. Are you twenty years old again, this is what you were I enjoyed in Bob's one of those veterans who plays taps at the funerals for other veterans. He also where's the uniform this memorial day ceremony that happens in Harrisburg he goes every year and he has a ritual first, two years the cemetery where's dad s, grandfather, a buried, and then he goes to the ceremony itself. They all
a reef and then afterwards he sought by the arts and crafts fair that's near by, and he finds a present for his granddaughter this year. While he was shopping, these two guys accosted him niece. Where did you go to boot camp What is your problem and he said I want to know where you went to boot. Can I should get Vienna? Michigan at get out of my face. He jumped back and he started Howard stolen valor pointing am innocent. He doesn't know where he went to boot, Camp LISA Fake, so this other kids starts in and he starts Howard and finding a man. Now this crowd is gatherings and I started through the crowd and these two guys cap, on either side.
Kept ration me the whole, and I keep telling them to get away from me, but they wouldn't in this, went on for almost two blocks. One of the two men was a cop and bosses. The cop kept reaching for his gun like his hands. Hovering over the holster which scare by because in the Marines he was taught that you go for your gun. If you're gonna use it was just really hours, so you milady, it was it's it's on the screen, It was like a nightmare We have a heart attack on the spot. You really thought you might die. Ah, yes, I had just suffered a heart attack at Christmas last Christmas right before Christmas,
have you warn your uniform since then. Now now I haven't how come well. I just I just haven't been able to be honest with you. The whole thing has just left the lack of an empty weight in I take your whole life and thrown in the trash. Can it hard not to wonder how many people like Bob there are out there? People had been falsely accused of stolen dollar.
May the veteran I talked with the podcast, he said, he's hurt a lot of stories of mistaken, stolen dollar cases that ended up a lot worse. It was like a guy in a bar, Vietnam, better and in some active duty, air force guys basically beat him up because they said, the stolen the hour, and in that he had been an he'd, been Eric in Vietnam and it seem like it was a performance like it was trying to make all the bystanders. Their people had been falsely accused of stolen valor, nay. The veteran I talked to the Pied cast he's he's hurt a lot of stories of mistaken, stolen dollar. This is just my personal opinion, but I get the feeling because of the extent to which this is always public. The assessment of the person in the determination, their faking is not meant to be a conversation between those two people. It's meant to be a spectacle to correct the record
so may be. The reason why people are so angry is not that it's the people are facing, but it's the people around them are fooled. This occurred never occurred to me thought I was watching these videos, I value is eavesdropping. I didn't realize that civilians like me worse I wish to be part of the audience be this knowledge veterans are gonna, be fooled by phony veterans. Part of their anger is, is about us is about civilians, who can tell the difference between somebody, who's, fake and somebody who's real name. Try not to get too upset about stolen valor, but what bothers him about it is that he sees it as a symptom of this larger gap the gap between civilians and service members. We know so little about what they do stolen dollars. Just like the most extreme example of that tonight. The solution is not calling out more frauds,
for people in the military and civilians to talk more for all of us to try to have conversations that go beyond. Thank you for your service. I People had a basic understanding of what the motor was, so they didn't necessarily become this. This thing that there is a proximate it and the provokes an emotional response. The people who wear uniforms are still people because it's weird when people are treating you like assembling you're, Turnus aim and talk to me. I'm a person like talk to me as a human being. Not
is the symbolic representation of what you think the uniform I'm wearing means. I asked Nate how we would even begin to start a conversation feels that big and he rattle off a bunch of questions, questions that were familiar to anybody. Who's ever made small talk where you from what you do over there. What do you do all day.
This episode is brought to you by better for it a new podcast from eighty p hosted by Francesco Ramsay. We all make mistakes better, for it looks at how stakes have shaped the lives and careers of visionaries and business leaders and helps them think differently about what their working for you'll hear from an entrepreneur who ventured out on his, and so I went out. I took seven hundred dollars. I had in the bank, but my own pickup truck, took some flyers business cards and later I had a business and in aid. Our role breaker, whose learned why we all care about work in the first place, but you are proud of the work do you want to be able to tell your friends about it? You want to be able to feel like you're, making a different you'll hear how they work their way through their mistakes and came out better for him
the non Spotify or wherever you get. Your PA casts get all really weird making sure about the internet. This week, the whole world watch videos, two black men being killed by police and then a sniper killing five police officers in Dallas over here. We all feel overwhelmed. We don't feel like we have anything smart earns. I want to say about this. It also feels really dishonest. Just do a show and pretend like this big horrible thing, isn't there. So I found myself doing what I do whenever something does it make sense to me, wishes staring at the internet and here It was horrible. The conversation was having online around Baton Rouge, Minnesota in Dallas. There are no new answers in that conversation for anybody
On Sunday morning I was looking at Twitter. I saw a by SAM Sanders, he's an end reporter, who was in Dallas covering the aftermath of the shooting, and he said something which really surprised me, which was that the conversations that he was here and the things you seem like down on a grand hours. There are things he was That were not reflected on the internet. There is a common station there that was like different. I really wanted to know what he meant by that, so we call him. He said he first bowed down like a lot of people dead. In the middle of the night on Twitter. So asking when you go to bed- and I start seeing these tweets and before I know what I'm engrossed in these tweet about that hours and it's just awful offer awful. I end up outside lake on the porch chain, smoking reading tweets for three hours in its it's even worse than what the videos felt like just because it
seemed like online people were already going into their corners in already being hateful and critical and mean, and I couldn't even fall asleep at night. I just remember being up in my bed and I think at one point I tweeted basically like I have to log off now and I still can't log off. Does it was just drag and so far down SAM Fluted, Alice and next day to cover the aftermath of the shooting and he felt like he knew what he was going to see when he got there, because seeing the conversation with was having on the internet and also because he'd reported on the aftermath of so many shootings before in cities. You ve been after events that are like this, like what is it really feel like just like tense cops and angry protesters. It feels like a script and feels like everyone they need to say and what the scrap MIKE without fail people will say. Exe
people are. Are a resilient people, the people over of Aurora are so resilient, the people of sandy hook or so resilient. The people at Santa Barbara are so resilient so that they say that then there's a and then there's the singing of the amazing grace, and you make sure you to record the amazing grace and then there's the candles and then there's the homepage. I like you, I guess a script like it's. It's it's disaster, mad lives. All of these things are there right. But this for whatever reason adjust. It was different. It was something else. It was something else. SAM's first day in Dallas the first place. You was a vigil, but nobody was really out of a job, and so he went across town to the place where the actual crime scene was. He said, that's where things start to feel weird. I get to the crime scene and you see, there's like twenty city blocks cordon off like black aids. Caution tape, cops squad cars lights, so you get there and you know you like. Oh, this is a crime scene, so I stopped look in the end as soon as I saw that I like look around in this people just sitting and standing in pay seen near the caution date,
On any given block, there'd be like five or ten people walking around just standing near or across the street, from the caution tape and so because Rising was twenty blocks. You saw you, You saw it all around the perimeter. Peter was like what is an app compare it like disasters, Arby's, like a crowd of people, just quietly aimlessly shuffling, it was really really creepy. Are you looking at the internet wow while this is happening or no heavy turned no. I was mad at the internet. I was like I need to adjust. I was mad at the internet and twitter piss me off and I was like no I'm just going to be in this moment to be in the space. So there were these people we're walking around that were there, but they obviously had nowhere to be and nowhere to go and they just were there. So I find the corner one woman, a teacher. She teaches music. First, like Kate, through sixth and unlike, what's what's going on it. What's the deal and she's like you now as needed,
Peter to reflect What what are you thinking about ashes? I don't know, and then she goes. I don't have a reason to stay. I don't have a reason to leave either. He said he kept saying that moments that were quiet with people who either weren't making up their minds or just had thoughts that were too complicated to put into it. By that's the thing the internet is not the larger conversation. The inner is a smaller conversation. I like this realization, I was second into a hotel room Sunday night in Dallas, most Roman asked me what I'm doing and tat. One might go, I'm a journalist she's like oh. What are you doing us and I said I work for and PR I'm currently Shooting she's not got so we start talking about the shooting and her interaction with police. We have a long conversation and finally, she said To meet you now, I see both sides. I see black lives matter point I see the police officers point
I see both sides, but whenever you say that you see one side, everyone thinks it. You hate the other side. So I just stay quiet. That's it that's what he saw. And I know how small that is- and I know how meagre it is to find hope in the fact that people are quietly thinking about something. But I think SAM's right like even though we know that were router, louder and more argumentative on the internet. I think we forget that the other thing the internet doesn't show us is quiet. The moment that we're all having were sitting there turning the staff over try make sense of it. I can feel like nobody else is doing that,
Sam Sanders, you volume on Twitter or you wanna, hear more SAM. You should check out the NPR politics by gassed sampling. The hosts it's great later this month, they're gonna go to both the democratic and republican Party comment and and they're going tape. Episodes every night person the morning after check it out. The virus is hosted by me, PDA vote and our common Europe reduces weed the amendment, eighty, the abandoned coy procedures and Domino Marconi. Our executive producers, TIM hard and editor is Peter clowning prejudice, distance from Tom Cody. We are mixed by requiring special thanks, a sweet American. Second, government can airy Brenner and Elizabeth Glass, nay, but they are just are. Writing workshop for veterans called voices from war. If you're interested
You find information at voices from war that work and our friends over the gimlet pike. Surprisingly awesome, which books are things that people think are boring and discovered their secret mass is organ episode about weddings. If you are having a wedding in September and you would like to help them that weddings are not boring at their awesome and you liked what them record your running and getting Dutch go to the website as a listener. Dot com Matt Labour is a summer night. Were you somehow get the ratio of thin sheet to heavy sheet and air conditioner to window to finally line and you are not too hot and you're. Not you called. Actually sleep are theme. Because by mysterious break master, cylinder and add music by gold buildings, you buy more, Besides the show at Itunes, dot com, slash reply on or from Google play or wherever yet Podcast Bernard. Judging your podcast source, our website is reply,
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-13.