Wetaskiwin, Alberta, saw a military poser found guilty of wearing fake medals under Section 419 (b) of the Criminal Code of Canada (Unlawful use of military uniforms or certificates). Robert Cooper received a $1,500 fine, 1 year of probation and 10 hours of community service.
I was in Wetaskiwin court that day with other veterans and watched Cooper plead guilty and get sentenced.
A lot of these posers, like Robert Cooper, have served in the military. It seems that just being a veteran having, or not having, awarded medals isn’t good enough for some. Some wear fake badges or other fake accoutrements. Serving just one day in uniform should be honour enough.
At Remembrance Day in Ottawa 2014, another military poser was exposed. Frank Gervais was found guilty of wearing a fake military uniform and medals and was sentenced to 12 months probation and 50 hours of community service. He had never served in the military.
Red Deer, Alberta saw its own fake veteran when Peter Toth, a civilian, showed up at three local schools during their Remembrance Day Ceremonies wearing a fake uniform with fake medals. He was found guilty of the fake medals and holding a false military certificate. He received 18 months probation and 200 hours of community service.
However, one only has to attend services at a local cenotaph to find members of so-called veteran’s service organizations wearing self-awarded medals, unearned badges and bogus insignia. Their selfish actions do nothing but insult the gallantry, dedication to duty, integrity, honesty and sacrifices made by members of Canadian military.
Some of these posers know how to toe the line with regards to Section 419 and not wear any uniforms, medals or badges but still tell their fake poser stories of military service to anyone that will listen. Unfortunately, this is not a criminal offence but, morally and ethically, it is so wrong.
We remember the blood, sweat and tears that it took to earn a piece of metal attached to coloured ribbon, a strip of cloth or an embroidered badge, and that is why we get somewhat emotional about them.
Fakery is not flattery, it’s cold, calculated deception with the goal of having one’s self-esteem issues assuaged by basking in the reflected glory of honourable men and women who have selflessly served this great country.
One must ask how many receptions honouring veterans have these fakers been invited to due to their “special status and position of honour “within their respective groups?
How many of these fakers, embellishers and out-right fraud artists have received thanks for their service by an unsuspecting public?
If the answer is one, then even that is one too many. Please stop this and any form of Stolen Valour.
MCpl Michael Barclay, CD (Retired), Innisfail