Ruining your reputation online in one easy step – Lie about your military service.

In my former career I served with the Canadian Armed Forces from 1997 – 2000 in the reserves as a Field Engineer (now called a Combat Engineer) and from 2003 – 2011 as a Resource Management Support Clerk in the regular force.  I released honourable in 2011.  Now that I am released from the military I primarily deal with Veterans Affairs Canada, however there are many organizations online that deal with the military and veteran issues I am involved with.

One problem that crops up from time time time is called stolen valour.  This is when a military service member or veteran embellishes what they accomplished while in military service or a civilian claims to have been a member of the military when they were not.  It could include wearing medals that one has not earned or qualification patches that one has qualified with the right to wear.  One recent incident involves Franck Gervais from Remembrance Day 2014.  He ended up being interviewed on CBC on national television.  Even though Mr. Gervais had never been a member of the military he wore an army uniform with medals that he never earned even though the Criminal Code of Canada states that this is illegal.  Section 419.   Mr Gervais ended up with 12 months of probation and 50 hours of community service for lying about having been a member of the military.

gervais

Image source: https://www.thestar.com

It’s so easy in this day and age to find out information.  I recall one Remembrance Day I came across a soldier who was a Captain wearing a medal I was unfamiliar with.  I was initially skeptical because I was sure I had never seen this medal before.  I thought I had memorized the whole chart of the various decorations and medals but he advised me it was a medal for bravery which are not given out very often and are cataloged by the Governor General by name and various other criteria.  It turned out that when I looked him up on the Governor General’s website by honour and last name he had unselfishly risked his life to pull ammunition out of a burning truck in Afghanistan saving the local population from being injured or killed in an explosion.  The Captain never bragged or gave any indication about what he had done to earn the medal, I just found out from my own research after the fact.  True heros do not brag about their accomplishments.

One site I like checking out it is This Aint Hell.  While it is more of an American focus it does manage to shed some light on the problem of stolen valour, whether that be a veteran embellishing what they accomplished while they served or a civilian claiming military service when they didn’t.  Maybe it is that we do not like to brag so much in Canada about our accomplishments that I do notice it is less of a problem here and comes up less frequently.  It seems like it is far less of a problem here in Canada then the United States.

Have you ever run across a case of stolen valour or felt that someone wasn’t telling you the truth about their military service?

Sources:

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/11/13/remembrance_day_hoax_clues_that_franck_gervais_was_no_military_man.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/franck-gervais-who-wore-illegal-military-gear-gets-probation-community-service-1.3177867

https://www.gg.ca/honours.aspx

http://thisainthell.us

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3 thoughts on “Ruining your reputation online in one easy step – Lie about your military service.

  1. I think this is a great article! As someone who is looking to go into this industry I often think about my online appearance and what I must do to keep it positive. Never would I have thought that people would lie about these types of things. I just got back from the NASCAR CocaCola 600 weekend which lines up with memorial day in the USA. This weekend many workers asked “are you serving?” This makes me wonder if people would lie about their status in order to gain the benefits of discounts etc. Food for thought.

  2. Very interesting blog. I remember the story in the news and being shocked that someone would so blatantly and obviously lie about service. It’s shocking that is a common occurrence.

  3. My mother would say “What a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive.” We should all keep it true, keep it real and keep it simple. This is an example of living the lie. We have all been lied to one time or another in our lives. Lesson to be learned; if it is too much to be believed, Hence take it with a grain of salt. I enjoyed this blog. Well done.

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