Stolen Valor: The people who commit military impersonation
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Stolen valor, or falsely claiming to have performed military service or claiming to have served in a different capacity than actually occurred, seems to be a growing problem in society. With the five branches (Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force), and large amount of awards, the United States has created a large amount of confusion when it comes to military service. Even so, very little is known about the people who commit stolen valor and the financial crimes they commit. The current study is meant to lay a foundation for future research on the topic. The current study created a database from publically available online data on stolen valor offenders. The website used for analysis contained the cases of 68 people who have been outed for having falsified their military history. To analyze their stories content analysis was used. The current study’s findings suggest, although the results are not generalizable, that many people who have served in the military may falsify their military history. Furthermore, many of the offenders have a criminal record detailing their generalist criminal tendencies. There are many more characteristics which were found to be relevant to these offenders. As this is the first scholarly study on the topic, not including legal papers pertaining to the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, many more questions need answering. Better and more data can allow for better policy to be created. Even so, there are some recommendation based on the current sample. First more information needs to be available to the general public concerning the military awards and regulations. Also, a database containing basic data of people who have served should be available to the public so if a person makes a claim of military service, it can be checked in a decent time frame. Likewise, certain disorders seem to be used more often than other disorders to gain financial benefits. Better recognition of these disorders and research into them may be necessary to decrease the amount of fraud committed.