Stealing Valor for a free meal

13Nov12

NOTE: This was written after Veterans Day 2012, and still applies today.

I experienced something recently that I have to talk about. I’m pissed off about this and need to get it out now, while it’s still fresh.

Monday November 12th my wife and I went to a couple of restaurants that were offering free meals to veterans. Despite the fact that I’m a trillionaire author, our four kids and single income means my family doesn’t have a lot of extra money to throw around. So this year we decided to go to the Olive Garden and Golden Corral.

The experience at the Olive Garden was excellent. The restaurant wasn’t any more packed than normal when we arrived for lunch. When I asked the waitress about the Veterans Day meal, she very politely asked me for my ID (the Olive Garden requires proof of military service) and then told me her boyfriend is an Army reservist preparing for an Afghanistan deployment. The service was excellent, the food was great, a handful of veterans wearing military hats or shirts shared quiet meals with their families at other tables. It was an all around good experience.

For dinner we went to Golden Corral. On their web site the restaurant advertises its Veterans Day free meal, and says no ID is required. I thought that was a bad idea, but otherwise didn’t dwell on it. But when my wife and I arrived, I changed my mind real quick.

The restaurant’s parking lot was packed and a line snaked out the door. A few VFW members and high school ROTC cadets were outside talking to customers and handing out “I served” stickers to anyone who said they were a veteran. And I mean, all you had to do was claim to be a veteran to get a sticker. If you got one, you didn’t have to pay.

A few people in the line with “I served” stickers sure didn’t look like they were veterans. An overweight young man in front of us was wearing a t-shirt, pajama pants and house shoes. A VFW Vietnam vet asked him a few friendly questions about his service, just making conversation. I listened intently. The man’s answers were so quiet and slurred we could barely understand them. He claimed to be an Army Iraq and Afghanistan vet. Then the Vietnam vet talked about his own war, and laughingly mentioned that his unit had to deal with snakes, tigers and elephants. The supposed Iraq and Afghanistan Army veteran gave him a confused look and asked, “You were in Africa?”

My wife and I exchanged a look. The Vietnam vet was wearing a baseball cap with his unit patch and miniature medals on it, and also wore a vest covered in military patches. He had mentioned Vietnam several times. Maybe this guy in line in his PJs really was a veteran, and really was that clueless. But I fail to see how any military man could have misunderstood the Vietnam vet.

Then we got inside the restaurant. It was chaotic, loud and crowded. No problem with that. A waitress seated us at a table with a couple in their 60′s. Both wore “I served” stickers, and the woman wore a hat with a veterans’ organization logo on it. No problem with that either, I enjoy talking to older veterans.

But when we sat down, the woman ruined it by talking to us. Within minutes I learned that she had been “deep cover” for Army criminal investigations. And while she “had never actually enlisted in the military”, her work as an informant made her just like a veteran. Then she said she used to be in a volunteer state militia, and “that was just like being in the regular military”. As far as she was concerned, she was entitled to eat for free. 

So within the first five minutes after being seated, I find myself across the table from a military poser. At least her husband was honest. All he claimed to be was an Army mechanic.

Then we asked our waitress when we were supposed to pay. We had been herded from the buffet line to a table, but hadn’t been asked to pay for my wife’s meal. The waitress said, “Oh, you were supposed to pay back there. But don’t worry about it, just put a sticker on. People have been in here all day lying about being the military to get free food, but at least you were honest. So don’t worry about it.”

My wife put on the sticker, but later I yanked it off. I wasn’t willing to risk having anyone think she was a poser.

We got up to leave. I went to a manager and told her we needed to pay for my wife’s meal, and said I thought a lot of people in the restaurant were never in the military. She was thankful for the honesty, and said, “You know, I figure about a quarter of the people in here today are lying to us. My ex was a Marine, and I can usually tell when someone’s lying about the military. But we’re not supposed to ask for IDs or anything.”

While she was talking to me, a “veteran” walked out of the restaurant after finishing his meal. He was wearing an Army combat uniform with Air Force boots, was missing all his patches, and had a beard. An absolute, obvious poser. But he had gotten his free food.

I tensed up. This poser was wearing a uniform that I wear with pride, that I fought in, that friends of mine were killed or wounded in. I don’t have PTSD and am not prone to angry outbursts, but I felt a sudden urge to inflict homicidal violence on him.

My wife grabbed my arm and told me to calm down. I’ve confronted a major, professional poser once before, despite my wife’s requests that I just walk away. But this time I let it go.

I left there furious, and told my wife we wouldn’t be back next year. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate Golden Corral’s attempt at honoring veterans for their service. Real vets can go there and get a free meal, which is a small but valuable show of support.

The problem is that any dishonorable loser too cheap to pay $12 can stand beside real vets and receive a gift they don’t deserve. GC’s system almost encourages abuse. The employees were certainly aware they were being scammed, and as a veteran I could plainly see it. But it wasn’t my place to be the gate guard at their restaurant, and apparently the corporate ownership has made peace with the fact that they’re being ripped off by posers. I guess they decided their noble gesture was worth the massive ripoff .

Any program that gives a reward without enforcing a standard begs to be exploited. If the organizers of the NYC Marathon advertise “Free jackets will be given away to anyone who finishes the race, no questions asked”, they should expect hundreds of people without a drop of sweat on their ill-fitting jogging suits to show up and demand their free jacket. We as a nation should know that we have thousands/tens of thousands/hundreds of thousands/maybe even millions of pathetic vultures in our midst, eagerly awaiting a chance to scam well-meaning people out of anything of value.

In my experience, those vultures are always on the prowl. On Veterans Day, they thought nothing of stealing accomplishments of men and women who have struggled and sacrificed and sometimes bled for this country. All that mattered to them is that they got something for free. In this case it was a $12 meal. In other cases it’s unemployment benefits, food stamps, free housing or something more valuable.

I’m trying not to be too cynical about this. I know real veterans got what they were promised. But I can’t shake the sense that the entire event was cheapened by the liars and posers who showed up.

To the owners of Golden Corral, thank you for trying to do something good for us veterans. But you almost ruined it by allowing it to be taken advantage of by liars and thieves. Please change your policy and ask for some proof of service. The military teaches us that honors must be earned, so real vets won’t complain about it. Make people show an ID, or a DD-214, or a VA card, or a picture in uniform. Have the VFW members at the door question idiots like the bearded guy in the mismatched uniform. Put up a sign outside that says, “We encourage real veterans to savagely beat anyone they catch lying about military service”.

Maybe some posers will still get through. But at least they’ll have to make a damn effort to do it.

UPDATE 11-12-13:

This picture was shared on the “Strike Hold” Facebook page today. It was taken at a Golden Corral Veterans Day meal yesterday. The man on the left is a real veteran and took the picture to make a point.

According to the FB page, this is the story of the conversation between the real vet and fake vet:

“So my buddy Brett saw this cool guy at Golden Corral.

Brett went up to him and thanked him for his service as dryly as possible, and then told Delta Ninja SF sniper that Brett wanted a picture with him.

After the pic, Brett said sarcastically that it was such an honor to meet a real life snake-eater.

Hi-speed replied, ‘Yeah, there are not many of us of left.’

Then Brett spat back, ‘There sure are on Veterans Day.’”

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82 Responses to “Stealing Valor for a free meal”

  1. Good stuff. Me and the wife went to OCharley’s. I definitely appreciate the gesture, but, I knew exactly how the crowd was going to be. I didn’t wanna have one more thing about humanity that disappointed me. Just chose to not see all the posers out there.
    Man, my daughter, my wife and I went to serve at a soup kitchen here. I saw waste and no humility from the people that were getting this help. They almost expect the handouts.

    • Jojo,

      I tried not to see the posers, but with that woman right across the table from me I couldn’t block it out. She kept trying to drop Secret Squirrel terms into the conversation, like telling me her son had a “Romeo Designator” which made his job secret. Then she told me he was Air Defense Artillery, which isn’t secret at all. I don’t think anyone could have ignored all the posing going on in there. It really makes me worry for this country, and makes it harder for me to contribute to anything charitable. Good on you for serving at the soup kitchen, but I don’t know if I could do it.

      • Ispent 10 years, 1958-1969, in the Navy always in safe billets. Never near any combat, I am a Veteran but feel that those meals and such should go to the real Vets who spent time on the lines, so I never participate. Altho I enjoy a well done once in a while, I am Proud of my 10 years service I gave to my Flag, My Country and her People…..

        • 4 Gunny

          Arthur, nobody who served in combat ever wrote their own orders or paid their own way… and no real combat vet would ever deny another veteran the honor and credit due. I don’t care if you spent 3 years in combat in Vietnam or six months slinging hash at Fort Dix and a cook with the National Guard. You raised your hand and took the oath while others turned their back and ran to Canada or worse, dodged their duty some other way and called us names when we returned.
          You are a veteran. That’s all that matters.

        • 6 Brian Shepherd

          Brian Shepherd..we ALL signed a blank check, we ALL trained and persevered..so NEVER downplay being a non combat vet..

        • 7 Jesse Sinclair

          Mr. Nicander from one veteran to another I want to say “Thank you” for your service to our country and “Welcome Home!” Please do not short yourself of the respect that you deserve, as you too are a deserving veteran and just because you may not have served on the “Front Lines” or in combat does not make you otherwise sir! You willingly joined the service to serve your country knowing that you could possibly go over there and not come back! In my book sir, that makes you just as much a hero as the rest! I would like to extend my hand for a hand shake and would like to present you with a heartfelt salute for your service! I am a cold war veteran who served in Germany from 84-86 and then in the states from 86-87. I have not been to war but do not believe that going to war is what makes you a true veteran! I salute you, sir!

        • Arthur,

          I’d like to echo what others have written. The fact that you weren’t in combat DOES NOT mean you’re not a true veteran. The central act that makes one a vet is standing ready to serve; one does not have to have seen combat to be a veteran.

          During Desert Shield I was in the Marine Reserve. We thought we were going, and thought it was going to be a massacre. Our battalion commander briefed us that we should expect to see 5,000-10,000 US casualties per day once the ground war started. My battalion was going to be fed in as replacements. We wound up being mobilized the day the war ended and didn’t go, but we had volunteered and we were ready. Our willingness to serve is equal to those who actually did deploy. As a two time combat vet, I don’t look down on anyone simply because they didn’t serve in combat. I might look down on them if they intentionally avoided combat while others went, but your service certainly doesn’t sound like you did that.

          Happy Veterans Day, Arthur.

    • I Concur, I stayed home and enjoyed my wife’s Lasagna and a beer.
      No jail for me :)

      • We did Olive Garden again. My wife, three sons and me out for a nice quiet meal, with a small (very small) discount. No obvious posers and nobody waving flags. It was a nice time. Maybe as good as lasagna and beer at home. :)

  2. 11 Fabian Reta

    Chris, I’m glad you posted this. Lisa and I are both veterans. I think you know that I was on active duty just long enough during Desert Storm to be given “Veteren Status”. I didn’t feel deserving of free meals…You, my friend, ARE a hero! Despite what your previous blog reads. Don’t sell youself short…That comes from a proud Marine that has a tremendous amount of respect for you. Semper Fi my brother!

    • Fabian,
      I appreciate the compliment, but believe me when I say I’m not a hero. I did a lot I’m proud of, but I’m lucky to have never been in a situation where I had to sacrifice like heroes do. And remember, the Veterans Day meals are for everyone who served, not just for those who served a certain length of time. If you signed your name and pledged your life, which you and your wife did, you should proudly accept the gesture. Maybe next year we can meet up at the Olive Garden and talk about the good old days.

      • 13 Brian Shepherd

        by definition a veteran is a person who served active duty for 180 days and other than a bad conduct discharge..

        • 14 Charles Beauchamp

          The Code of Federal Regulations strongly disagrees with your definition of a veteran. I invite you to look up 38 CFR 3.1(d). From memory, a veteran is one who served on active duty in the military, naval or air forces of the united states and who was discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. There is no minimum servife time to be deemed to be a veteran. The only minimum service requirements are to qualify for certain benefits.

  3. 15 Manal Broeckelmann

    Chris,

    Thanks for sharing the story. I don’t understand why they’re not allowed to ask for ID. If it is free for all then why call it “honoring our vets”.
    As for the informant who sat across from you, I wish I was there to give her a piece of my mind :)

    • Manal,

      She wasn’t involved in the case I think you’re talking about! But at least she was kind of entertaining, when she wasn’t making me gag.

      • 17 Manal Broeckelmann

        Lol..I’d like to give all informants a piece of my mind. Doesn’t matter which case, haha..

  4. Chris, It’s a slap in the face to veterans if Golden Corral doesn’t change their policy in checking for ID. If they don’t change their policy, the free meal extended to veterans has little meaning.

    • Sheri,

      I agree. It’s kind of like putting out a pile of Medals of Honor, and saying, “Come and get one, but only if you know in your heart you deserve it.”

  5. 20 kimberly kelley

    This is almost just as funny as watching those in the Military use the “Hey, im military”-card and I deserve this, that and this! I know that is what a LOT of people do on Veterans day; so, I simply didn’t go anywhere to eat and receive a free meal. In fact, I do what I know is worth doing-where lying to get something free doesn’t come of doing this- a Workout. A work-out (HERO WOD) to be exact; which is dedicated to those specific military mom, dad, brother, sister, aunt or uncle who lost their life in a fight somewhere in a place where I know I was not. I intentionally picked up the weight, in dedication to them (or their favorite WOD), knowing that I am here-breathing and exaughsting my muscles- to remain ready for the fight they lost their life too.

    • Kim,

      A sad story I heard about free meals was from a Texas Roadhouse. They did check IDs and turn people away, so they had real vets eating for free. Then they had three waiters go home in disgust because not a single one of the vets left them a tip. If you’re getting a free meal, the least you can do is tip the waiters and waitresses who are making next to nothing.

      Good on you for working out. I spent the morning at the doctor’s with my pregnant daughter and the afternoon laying around with my wife. It was a good day.

  6. 22 Paratrooper Jerry Rice

    Chris, as an Army Veteran, I agree with you that ID should be required.That sounded like a Zoo environment ar Golden Corral, and WAS insulting to all that have served. Paratrooper Jerry Rice

  7. Thank you for posting this. Not long ago, my children’s father was in hospital and my kids wanted me to visit with him to see if I could help with getting social security, food stamps, HUD housing assistance, etc. for him. His doctors hadn’t given him a good outlook; his liver was failing.
    Although he and I were divorced many years ago, I’m unable to forget how he treated me and the kids, and he and I hadn’t stayed in contact.
    After discussing pertinent information, I brought up the subject of his military service; I had remembered he was in the Army for a short while (before we were married) during Viet Nam era.
    He said he had been through basic training and later assigned to a post. He apparently had a knee injury during basic, and the Army (he said) offered him a desk job. He said he told them, “No way, I want out”, and so was relieved and discharged.
    I am an air force veteran and thought that after 180 days in service, one is considered a veteran. I thought maybe I could help him, if only to help my kids feel at ease and take some load off their shoulders.
    I told him I could probably get his DD214 for him, and possibly, he could get help from the VA if he had received a medical discharge.
    I reminded him of my enlistment and serving four years, and also spoke of how the VA had helped me and my kids, especially with their schooling at university.
    He got angry and shot back: “Yeah, it was easy for you! There wasn’t a war going on when YOU went in!”
    I don’t know why, but that cut me to the core. With those words, he had diminished me, my service meant nothing. With those same words, my mind recalled why I had divorced him in the first place. I was hit again with pictures (in my mind) of being abused by him and of my children doing without because he had to “go and do his own thing” instead of taking care of them.
    No, I didn’t serve in combat. No, there was no reported war going on when I enlisted (nor during my time in service). I enlisted to work and to try to provide for my kids, which he was unwilling to do.
    I honor and respect those who served, and who still serve and remember those who gave all.
    I walked out of the hospital with a renewed respect for those who have fallen, who deserve respect that is not given, who don’t brag about their service yet wish they could talk to someone about those wounds of war which are hard to put in words.
    I taught my children to respect their earthly father, but they and I both know
    WHAT A COMPLETE ASSHOLE HE IS.
    Thanks.
    ps. He rebuffed my every effort to help him.
    Though I keep praying for him to get well. . .
    I can’t keep from saying TO HIM in my mind: “F*CK YOU!!”

    • Jennifer,

      What your ex did to you was, in a sense, what the posers do to all of us. They diminish our service to satisfy their own selfish interests. In your case, it’s not your fault WW3 didn’t break out while you were in the AF. Back before I went to Iraq I felt like my service wasn’t “real”, and other vets pointed out how wrong I was. Now that I’ve been to combat, I know that there’s a lot of plain luck involved; a service member can serve twenty years and never hear a shot fired, another service member can join and wind up in combat within months. Whether you actually serve in combat is usually due to factors beyond your control. What matters most to me is the willingness to serve, not whether you wound up in a war or not.

      I hope you find resolution with the situation between you and your ex, for your kids’ sakes.

      Chris

      • 26 Parker

        Chris, this reply meant a lot to me, I hit my 2 year in service mark last week, and I am already in the Warrior Transition Unit, looking at a med-board for injuries that caused me to miss my first deployment. I often feel as though my service doesnt count, but I do get reminded from time to time by guys like you, that it was the volunteering that counted not whether or not deployment was in the cards for me. Thank you.

        • 27 Jesse Sinclair

          Parker do not feel that you or your service do not count. I have a son who joined up a couple of years ago and served in Afghanistan. You did not join up knowing that an injury would keep you from deploying, I commend you (My Brother!) for doing what MANY people are too afraid to do and that is to join up during time of war. I am not a war veteran but I am a cold war veteran who served in Germany from 84-86 knowing that at anytime we could go to war and would have had to defend the Fulda Gap with 80% casualties in the first 24-48 hrs. until the stateside units could get there, this tends to make you a little nervous. You had no choice in whether you deployed or not but you still enlisted never the less, you are a “Hero” just like all the rest in my book! Thank you for your service to our country!

        • Parker,

          I had a college professor whose father was a Marine in WW2. During training his father was caught between a troop ship and landing craft while he was climbing down a rope ladder, broke his leg and was medically discharged. I know two SF guys who volunteered specifically so they could go to war; years later, after they went through over two years to get their longtab, neither has deployed to combat.

          All those guys, and you, are real veterans whose service meant just as much (or more) than mine or anyone else who served in combat. You volunteered for the military during wartime, and that’s something to be proud of for the rest of your life.

  8. Chris,

    Like you I was able to enjoy a meal at Applebees for and O’Charley’s on another day for supper and would like to say thank you to both for their hospitality. Please support the Stolen Valor Act 2012:

    http://www.armytimes.com/news/2012/12/military-senate-passes-revised-stolen-valor-act-120312/

  9. I’ve seen them at other times and places, usually the young guy trying to impress a young lady with tales of his survival against unbelievable odds…usually while on a “secret mission”. My favorite was a young guy who claimed to be a Marine…sitting in the restaurant, wearing (I swear) desert camouflage, jungle boots, ribbons and cover… Clearly she thought he was quite the dashing figure. I couldn’t stand it. He wasn’t happy when I challenged him about his “uniform” and yes, “secret mission”. He didn’t even have the decency to act embarrassed. At least the young lady got the idea and left him sitting there by himself.

    • We’ve got a former Marine MOH winner in my neighborhood. He was captured in VN, escaped and led a rescue party back to the camp. Saved 85 prisoners. He’s not bragging, but he’s got an MOH, Silver Star and five Purple Hearts. And this was after he was in Russia as a sniper.

      The Freedom of Information Act response showed he was in the Corps for 2 years and never went overseas, but obviously the overseas part is just too secret for the government to share.

      Jesus Christ, I hate posers.

      Chris

  10. 33 Glenn

    I hate poseurs as well. There are those of us who have served honorably working hard to protect the freedom these arsewipes are cheapening with their asinine actions

    • Yup. I’m all for freedom of expression, so I guess it shouldn’t be illegal just to lie about being a vet. But I sure wish it was legal to beat the crap out of those guys.

  11. 35 CP

    These scum infect all corners of the world, over here in the UK we call them walts, named after the daydreaming comic book guy. They are the lowest of the low and when found out they are exposed for their lies as publicly as possible.

  12. 37 Adam

    The posers are not able to be prosecuted under the Stolen Valor Act? I am a Combat Vet and proud of my service and the service of others. You are all my brothers and sisters. If I ever catch anyone posing, then I would consider that a personal attack on my family. Damn it, I wish I had enough sense to come up with the idea sooner. Why don’t we all take turns at the door. Verifying ID’s or with a few simple questions about their service history? if they are legit, then thank them, shake their hand and go on to the next. Next year, that sounds like a great idea for me and my son to spend together on Veterans Day. Happy Veterans Day to all you have and still do serve and protect our freedoms, family, country and way of life.

    • 38 Chris Feldman

      This sounds like a great idea!!! I’m going to check into doing it locally.

    • Adam,

      The new Stolen Valor Act states a person is only guilty if they’re using their false claims to gain a substantial benefit. According to the 1st Amendment, people have the right to lie, but not to benefit financially from the lie. I see the logic, but it’s still hard to take.

  13. 40 Chris Feldman

    Hi Chris
    Thanks for your service…..I’m a Vietnam Era Veteran, having served in Germany during the end of Vietnam. Shortly after I enlisted, the US quit sending troops there and after stateside duty for about 1.5 years, I went to Germany for my remaining 1.5 years. After ETS’ing, I returned home and enlisted in the Army National Guard and served for another 13 years until I had to make a decision about the future in my civilian job and I did not reenlist in the Guard. While in the Guard, I had a couple of deployments overseas but never in combat and I suffered a severe knee injury which I recovered from fully. I’ve been told that I am qualified for a disability for the knee injury but, I am not really suffering from it at all, and I feel I would be cheating someone to accept anything for it, when someone else could really use the help. Maybe at some point I will try to get a new knee but not now. In my civilian job, I was a Law Enforcement Officer for over 22 years, and I have been involved in deadly force encounters and am well aware of the effects of being under fire. I continue to maintain contact with service members through a part-time job I have instructing fellow LEOs and some military folks special tactics. I cannot express how proud I am of the young men and women I encounter that served our country whether in combat or not, civilian LEOs or military. When I have encountered a couple of posers over the years, I want to just…….well the same as you I’m sure. We always have had these posers through the years and I’m sure we always will. Anyway, just wanted to say Happy Veteran’s Day and thank you for the work you do. Hooah.

    • Hooah Chris, thanks for your military and LE service as well. And thanks for not jumping on the disability gravy train. I think most of us longtime vets have some physical condition we could get disability for, but that doesn’t mean we have to. Unfortunately, way too many vets are rushing to the VA to get as much money as possible, even if they don’t really need it.

  14. I’m with you, man. Good call.

  15. 44 odie

    Funny you mention our undying pursuit of free stuff, this happened less than an hour after the bombing.

  16. FOCK DAT CRAP I DONT NEED A HAND OUT I,M REALLY A COMBAT VET C,COMPANY 2/60 3BDGE 9TH INF DIV GO DEVILS 66-67 I TOOK MY BASE BALL CAP AND SHOWED ID AND GOT LAUGHED AT I FELT HUMILIATED AND WALKED OUT OF GOLDEN CORRAL IN IRVING TEXAS GUESS BEING MESSICAN AND IRVING IS RED NECK GOP IPUT 1X1 TOGETHER AN D IT COMES OUT WHITE AND IWASNT SO EFF IT I STAYED HOME DRINKING COFFEE AND EATING BURGERS

    • Ed,

      I’d be really surprised if being Hispanic had anything to do with it. I’ve been in a lot of different states and cities, and NEVER had any business give me the slightest problem about my ethnicity.

  17. 48 Susan

    I agree with you, no veteran would be mad about having to show some proof. I personally wouldn’t go somewhere that don’t ask for anything because too many people lie.

    • I think most of us would be honored and proud to show proof. Last night at Olive Garden the waitress told me I didn’t need to show ID because she trusted me. I showed her anyway and told her, “Please keep checking IDs, it’ll keep all the liars out of here.”

  18. And this is why I stay at home. To many damn fakers out there.

  19. 52 Zahra

    I imagine this is for the people such as homeless vets without identification. That’s a hard line. I took my DD214 with me today, but perhaps some older destitute vets do not have their appropriate paperwork.

    • Understood, but I think that could be remedied by having a few vets asking questions at the door. Simple stuff, like “What was your MOS? What unit were you in? Where were you stationed?”

      The benefit of the doubt could be given to the vet if the answers are close to believable. But it would still keep out the guys who say crap like “I was such a good shot in basic training, they pulled me out and stuck me directly into Special Forces.” True story, a guy actually told me that once.

  20. 54 Ryan H

    I like that here in Oregon you can present your DD214 and accompanying application when you renew your driver’s license and have “Veteran” printed on your license. I have never taken advantage of any of the freebie offers from restaurants, but I am glad that many of you do.
    Posers really do anger me greatly. I was never a high speed trigger puller Ranger/SF 11B hero and have never claimed to be. I served my country to the highest standard possible in my MOS. I have never understood the poser mentality. That right there is one kettle of fish, to claim you served in a capacity that you didn’t. The other is to claim any kind of service when you have been a civilian your whole life. I suppose neither is any better than the other, but the latter really gripes my ass. To steal valor from those who have served, fought, and even died is beyond my comprehension.
    All my fellow brothers and sisters who have honorably served I wish you a very Happy Veterans Day!

  21. 56 Vins

    Thanks to each and every one of you for your service.
    Jennifer Childress, whether or not you had the opportunity to see combat is irrelevant; you signed the check. I spent 28 years in the AF and never saw what I consider real combat. All I can say is, I was where the AF needed me and where I was supposed to be. God has a plan. I was able to effect things that maybe others might not have taken on. Wish I could have kept on serving, but they turned me out to pasture. I’d be willing to bet that you touched someone’s life along the way. Sometimes we just don’t get to see the results.

    • Vins,

      bingo. My grandfather was never in combat either, he wound up as a gunner on a blimp during WW2, escorting convoys along the east coast. But he did his job stateside so others could do theirs overseas. And I’m proud of him for that.

  22. First took the Oath in October ’71, didn’t go Active USN until March ’72 and spent the next year and a half in ET school. By the time I went to my first ship in Oct ’73 (heading for Bahrain during the Yom Kippur War wa somewhat interesting) VN was essentially over and I never saw a shot fired in combat.

    No holiday for me, regular work day, But I did add the First Navy Jack below the Flag on thepole today. Just sayin’.

  23. 60 PFC P

    I took my wife and kids to Golden Corral tonight to have dinner. As I drove by, looking for a parking spot, I saw no less then five people getting “I served” stickers from employees. Every single one of them were wearing jungle camo and sneakers. I felt sick just looking at them and couldn’t do it, so we went and had dinner at a small local place that was very nice to give me a 10% discount. After I showed them my ID.

    • PFC,

      Good call. My wife and I almost turned around when we saw the line at GC, but decided to stay. I kinda wish I had left, but then I wouldn’t have this story to tell.

  24. 62 Keith

    First, Thank you for your service., I am not a veteran, but this makes me sick.. My Dad is a Vietnam veteran, the company he works for wouldn’t let him have the day off. He has never taken Veterans day off before. He was planning on spending the day with one of his Army buddies and getting some food. He is retiring in about 2 months, so next year he will be able to go where he pleases. If you decide to setup show and beat the piss out of posers let me know. Even though I have not served, I will sure as hell beat the piss out of anyone trying to steal that honor. Again thank you for serving.

  25. 64 hj

    I think it’s a great gesture by these businesses and they absolutely should require ID. I personally don’t go because I don’t think my 4 years as an Army driver during relative peace time should be honored the same as the real heroes that served and sacrificed so much more.

    • 65 RJP

      I’m with you hj. 4 years inactive reserve and only 1 year active as a driver and friggin training room ncoic as an E4 type. I don’t deserve the recognition that my brothers in arms deserve. Hell no deployment either.

    • 66 Ryan H

      HJ,
      It isn’t “Veterans Who have Served in Combat Day”. I have served tours in Iraq and spent nearly 15 years on active duty. You swore the oath and did the time you enlisted for. You are a veteran man! I appreciate you make a distinction between combat veterans and non, but what others have done doesn’t diminish what you have done. Own your life man, and accept the honor that is rightfully yours.

    • HJ,

      I’ll bet my great uncle Leo, a radioman on a B-17 in the California National Guard, never expected to be under Japanese attack in the Philippines, and never expected to fight as a rifleman during the defense of Bataan and Corregidor. I’m sure he never imagined himself in the Bataan Death March. But that all happened, despite his safe peacetime job.

      He was apparently killed during the March. We don’t know exactly what happened to him.

      In Iraq I saw graffiti in a bathroom: “88M [truck driver] – the Army’s new infantry.” That was an exaggeration, but still made a point. The “safe” Cold War job of driving a truck became one of the most dangerous jobs in Iraq.

      Your service doesn’t mean any less than anyone else’s, combat vet or not.

  26. 70 Allen White

    I served 10 yrs in the Navy 89-99 and a DS/DS vet. I do appreciate the free meals, but have taken part of it, even when I was down and out and just had a microwave meal to it, I was satisfied and happy with what I had, believe me, I have had much worse. I get sick to my stomach when I hear about all these posers, espicially the ones that do not have the balls to raise there hand and serve, but yet spit on the military. I served because i wanted to. My whole family has served, it is a tradition, not for money like some off these non serving idiots claim is the reason, but for the reason off pride and knowing you contrubuted to the cause of freedom. Thanks for the article, I enjoyed reading it

    • 71 Allen White

      I have never partaken in the free meals, even though my wife asked me if I wanted to. Sorry, some misspelling in my last post

      • No worries Allen, thanks. I also served because I wanted to, and even though I did make some sacrifices to serve, I still enjoyed it and it enriched my life. Even the bad days overseas were valuable.

  27. Thank you so much for your well written article educating me about that taking place on our honored day. I personally did not go anywhere on Veterans day to receive a free meal do to the fact that I am recovering from back surgery that was actually caused by an incident that happened on duty. But I know that if I had gone to Golden Corral that I would have been angered too upon seeing that sort of thing. I admire your discipline in holding your tongue in that situation. I think that I may have lost my discipline in that situation because Honor and Integrity are two extremely important values that I live by every day. So I don’t feel that I would have been able to hold my tongue to that kind of offense towards the service that I love. Is this what we all served for? So that dishonest dirt bags can go and tarnish our honorable service? I applaud your boldness in writing such an article. I thank you for this and for your service and all of those that have read this and feel the same.

  28. Truly sad for those who have to lie to get a free meal. I would have more respect for them if they would just be honest and say they didn’t have the funds. Because of this, I will not go out on Veteran’s Day nor will I take their free offer. I don’t need to be honored in such a way. The occasional “thank you for serving.” i get is more than enough for me. Thank you brothers and sisters for serving and Welcome home Vietnam Vets.

    • Native,

      I’d be okay with a “Veterans Day Feast For All”, as one of my friends suggested. I would have no problem with vets and non-vets eating free together on that day. I agree, simple thanks are enough.

  29. 77 CAA

    I’ve never commented on this or even had the occasion where I felt like I needed to mention it, but in reading some of these post on here and having heard much talk of it over the past 10 years, I think I will state my opinion.. After all, I’m a Marine and we can never keep our mouths shut.. LOL

    I joined the Marine Corps in Feb of 1981. I walked into the recruiters office the first time at 16 wanting to join because they had our people hostage in Iran. Of course I was too young, but a motivated Gunny was willing to get all my paperwork done, test me, etc., so I could be on the bus as soon as I hit 17… Sure enough I was on the yellow footprints 2 weeks after my 17th birthday…

    My first disappointment was them releasing the hostages and Reagan honoring the agreement not to retaliate… We still owe them an ass whoopin in my opinion.. :-)

    A couple years after joining and doing what Marines do during peace time… Things like training and maintaining weapons and equipment, participating in Team Spirit and CAFEX, etc… I heard that the excitement was on Embassy Duty, so I volunteered and was selected.. No sooner do I leave the fleet we get involved in Beirut… I missed that opportunity too, but many friends did not return from there…

    I extended for some time and did close to 5 years on active duty… I got to spend days on post watching over a couple of embassies during demonstrations in Paris, the Philippines during the time Marco’s was being ousted, and in Beijing.. Had to bust a few heads along the way, but no combat…

    I got off active duty in Nov 85 because I was offered a government job in Beijing… After a couple years passed I missed the Marine Corps so much I decided to go back in the reserves when I heard of a fairly new LAV unit in Ft. Dietrick in 88… I was with them for a bit over a year, then decided to get married and left the reserves.. About 6 months later they were deployed to the first Gulf War… I missed that too

    I spent my time wanting and looking for the best way to get into any action available, but it is limited during peace time…

    Now, having given a brief history of my time served, while I have GREAT respect for those Marines that have served in combat, I am proud of the time I gave the Marine Corps… I joined looking to go to war and left wanting to go to war, I was young.. :-) While I have the utmost respect for those that have been in combat, do I think I am any less of a Marine? Hell NO! the Marines I served with during peace time were the same Marines serving during war time… The only difference is that there was a full blown active war, thus the Marines that have served over the past 12 years have served in combat.. Many of them with multiple tours never experienced in our nations history… But for anyone to think for one second that the Marines of my era that served during peace time would not have stepped forward and carried out our duty as Marines is just childish!

    I remember when we were in place for the first Gulf War that’s all the talking heads were talking about on TV.. Our troops had no combat experience, they were going to be going up against hardened fighters that had never known anything but war, blah, blah, blah… Every time I heard some stupid civilian open their mouth with that trash, I would tell them they were an idiot.. I knew without a doubt that the Marines awaiting their first trip into combat were the same quality Marines that I had served and trained with over the years and that the Iraqies were in for a serious ass whoopin… And that’s exactly what all those scary seasoned fighters got from the American troops.. An ass whoopin! We may not have had actual combat under our belts at the time, but we had the best, most realistic training possible to maintain our nations defenses…

    Every one that has combat experience, at one point had no combat experience… What they had, the same thing I had and all those I served with had, was the willingness to step up when called on.. I signed that same blank check that every combat vet signed, it’s just that no one cashed it… No one should think for one second though that the check was not good!

    For those of you that think you are undeserving because you never saw combat, BS! You should think no less of yourself than those that did… If you served honorably, training and maintaining the war machine that enabled those to execute when called to fight, then you should have your head held just as high…

    I think the reason I have never had to express anything like this before is because I have yet to encounter another Marine that looks down on those without combat experience… Hell, if I could join today or could have got back in to join the fight 10 years ago, I would have… The only reason the Marines I have known have not had combat experience, is because it wasn’t available at the time.. Mind you, this is not about some stupid idea that war is glamorous, it’s about a Marine willing to do the job he is trained and called upon to do…

    Be proud of the uniform you wore and the country you served!

    Well, that’s my two cents… LOL

    THANK YOU to ALL who have served honorably!

    SemperFi

    • CAA,

      That’s a great point. Your generation would have gone if called, just as we would have hit the beach at Normandy if needed. I don’t consider your service lesser either. The balloon just didn’t go up while you were in. Your service is nothing to be ashamed of.

  30. I went home to my wife. She lost her first husband in 1994. He was USAF. I keep his urn and flag in my office. I was US Army. My first wife ran off in 1994. So each year on Veterans day, I honor her, for she lost more than I could ever imagine. She had to endure the knock on the door. The returning of the casket, draped in a flag, as a young mother and now widow, she was faced with the ultimate loss. I only served 8 years. Never went to combat, and do not claim anything other than I served. My father was in Korea. His brother was with him. My mothers brother was in Vietnam. My dads oldest brother was in WWII, Berlin Airlift, Korea and Vietnam. My cousin was Navy and is Arlington. I have other cousins, Army, USN and USAF. My grand fathers were WWI and WWII.

    We are a family who serve with quiet pride.

    I salute all veterans and I salute your families as well, because me may have gone 10,000 miles away, but they stayed home without us, they stayed here, took care of the children, the house, banking, bills. All we did was was our job, they did the hard part.

    I hope i out live my wife, she does not deserve to bury another husband, but if it happens, I know my flag and my ashes will be in good company.

    • Arro,

      My wife gave birth to our fourth child right after I arrived in Afghanistan. You’re right, she had to make a hell of a sacrifice. I owe her for that (and she always lets me know I owe her for that).

  31. 81 Cruinn

    Picture a comedy club in Denver… A young E-4 (that’s me) is waiting in line to get his picture taken with Christopher Titus. Titus loves the troops, did the USO tour a few times, and talks about stuff he’s done for soldiers in his specials. Poser bait. Ahead of me in line, I see a scrawny dude in civilian clothes, except that he was wearing an ACU patrol cap, poorly, with a golden SFC pin-on rank, upside down, and a BDU ranger tab below it, hand sewn on, or possibly flat-ironed, I’m not entirely sure which, and his multicam name-tape claimed his name was Walters. How do you fuck up THAT many things? If you’re going to fake something like that, at least do some fucking research.

    I may, or may not, have partaken in the beverages provided by the club, and was on prescription hydrocodone for a major surgery(yes, shame on me), inhibitions out the window, I’m about to choke this soup sandwich. My lovely, pregnant wife won’t let me do that, however… So of course, when she left to go pee, I politely attempted to get his attention.

    How many soldiers hear their last name called out and don’t react, at all? Maybe those who’ve fired a .50 cal once to often, or been inside of a HMMWV when an IED goes off, and therefore have no hearing, but I doubt that was the issue in this case. I tap our hero on the shoulder and I start asking him questions about his service. Having been on con leave for almost a month, my out of regs hair and scruff provided an adequate civilian disguise. This US Army Ranger was apparently stationed in Fort Collins, and had several combat deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He did stumble when I asked him what unit he was in, but saved himself by pulling the “that’s classified” card… and then stood with a slack-jawed, confused look on his face when I informed him that he could tell me because I had a secret clearance.

    I told him I was stationed at Fort Carson, and was in the 4th Infantry Division, and asked to see his CAC. He didn’t know what that was, turned around, and tried to ignore me, which is when I yanked his wallet out of his back pocket, and quickly flipped through it. Funny, no military ID, no ACE card, nothing at all to signify that he was in the Army, his name isn’t even Walters. Hi-speed must have sanitized his wallet before coming out to the show. Very angry and embarrassed, he reverts to a screaming toddler, while I calmly inform the patrons of the club that he is a lying, spineless, sackless pile of shit, and should be ashamed of himself for taking credit for something he could never hope to achieve.

    Fuck posers. If I see you out and about, looking like hammered wolf p****y, I will confront you, I will embarrass you, and then I might just kick the shit out of you while a crowd of people watch and applaud. Adding injury to insults.

  32. 82 Cruinn

    That long, obnoxious rant aside, my wife, our two friends and I went to the Black Bear Diner. Olive Garden was packed, I wasn’t about to mess around with GC, and the BBD has delicious food and ginormous portions. They weren’t advertising it, but they had a free meals for vets deal. Possibly to keep out the pathetic wastes of air pretending to be vets.

    I cannot harp this enough, but PLEASE tip your waiter/waitresses… ESPECIALLY if you got a free meal. Don’t be that guy. Making the rest of us look bad by association.


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