Military Impostors: How (and Why) They Start the Lie

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

People go to great lengths to fabricate military service. 4 out of 5 people claiming they served in Vietnam did not. Pulitzer Prize winning historian Joseph Ellis was famously exposed in 2001 for claiming to have served in Vietnam although he never even went. The Stolen Valor Act, a 2006 law which made it a federal misdemeanor to wear, manufacture or claim unearned military medals, was recently ruled unconstitutional by a Denver judge. But what drives people to lie about military service?

We speak with a Doug Starner, a veteran who tracks down those who are making up their service. A psychology professor at Tufts University, Sam Sommers, helps to explain the psychology behind this sort of lying.  


Sam Sommers and Doug Starner

Produced by:

Posey Gruener

Comments [2]

Bjorn Button

Thanks to those who actually served in the wars and have received military medals for their service. It is an honor they deserve and respect that only they should receive.

Jun. 06 2012 01:41 PM
Jonathan Simon from Arlington, MA

We live in a celebrity culture in which feelings of personal inadequacy abound. Much of the effect of our great entertainment/advertising machine is to keep consumers feeling inadequate, so that they continue to purchase things in the hope of filling a bucket with a hole in it. Is it any wonder then that we find that self-aggrandizement runs rampant? To many Americans the worst curse of all is being undistinguished, a non-celebrity, themselves.

Jul. 28 2010 06:51 AM

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