Friends at Occupy Denver say they've watched Strandlof grow into his own — though they're not sure exactly what that means. Perhaps Strandlof isn't, either. When news of his history reached the group, he cracked jokes about it. Making small talk at the Thunderdome with both strangers and friends, he told of taking classes at Metro State (which is true); but on his Facebook page, he now says he's a geology major at the University of Colorado Denver (not true). He spoke about the difficulty of dealing with Don't Ask, Don't Tell as an openly gay vet (not true) and about the difficulty of dealing with a family that rejected him based on his sexuality (true).

In the same month he joined Occupy Denver, he reached out to Saltzman in an attempt to apologize.

"Since we last spoke," he wrote her on Facebook, "I have connected with several agencies and am getting therapy — both medication and counseling. Things are a little better, but you know stuff like this doesn't go away overnight. If I might ask, could you please relay a message to...others that I deceived that I never had any ill will towards them? What I saw was a warm, inclusive community that I wished in some way I could be a part of." Saltzman says she's forgiven Strandlof, but she has not written him back.

Rick Strandlof, aka Rick Duncan, was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act.
Rick Strandlof, aka Rick Duncan, was charged with violating the Stolen Valor Act.
Rick Strandlof joined up with Occupy Denver last fall.
Ambrose Cruz
Rick Strandlof joined up with Occupy Denver last fall.

Still, Rick Gold has more friends on Facebook today than does Rick Strandlof.

None of Strandlof's former friends at IVAW have spoken with him, either, though Flaherty swears he has seen Strandlof twice. Last fall, as he walked to the 16th Street Mall, he passed Strandlof at the Occupy Denver encampment. And two weeks ago, he spotted Strandlof on a bicycle in Commons Park. "My reaction was that I wanted to push him over, and I don't know why," Flaherty says. "I didn't want to hurt or harm him, but I wanted to express anger in a physical manner. Next time. Next time I'll say something."

If he came upon Strandlof in a supermarket, Briggs says, he'd ask Strandlof why he lied — but he wouldn't stop there. "This is going to sound messed up, but personally I think a guy like Rick who claims to have been blown up and had both his knees replaced and a plate put in his head in Iraq, I think he should be put in a truck and sent to Iraq and have both of his knees blown up and a plate put in his head," he says, pointing to the potential impact that lying about military service — stolen valor — has on all veterans. "I know it's not a feasible option, but I wish there was a way that the people who do those things could experience their lies."

Meeting with Westword over coffee to discuss a possible story, Strandlof expressed a wish to distance himself from his past, or at least a curiosity to see if that's even possible. Weeks later, when he decided not to participate, he said he was thinking of his current self. Rick 3.0. He doesn't want to think about those earlier versions anymore, he said.

And neither, really, do his former friends. They now mumble about "hindsight being 20-20" — though their vision today might be even stronger.

"I'd ask him what he was thinking and then let it go," Briggs says. "I try not to hold grudges. I wouldn't get angry. I understand people are messed up and desperate. But I don't know if any of us ever reached out to figure out that 'Why?' question.

"I wish someone had."

******

There will be those who claim that I am a terrible human being and should have all manner of terrible things done to me as a result. They are probably correct. Or not.

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7 comments
PalmalaHanderson
PalmalaHanderson

Having 3 sons;

1- sociopathic narcissistic sex offender felon

2- bi-polar passive-agressive never employed slacker

3- honor roll athlete of high morals

 

Is it nature or nurture?

 

Is it us (parents, still married)?

 

How come the kid we gave the least parenting to (the first two pretty much burnt us out) turned out so good?

 

Reading this story makes me realise that is a question for the ages that I will take to my grave.

 

 

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

So THIS, is what Joe Murphy does w/ his spare time....???

heckle3030
heckle3030

"He's like the Mr. Magoo of espionage."

 

I damn near broke a rib laughing. Good call, Hank!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

So when this guy finally pops a gasket, will there be copious handwringing about the ignored -- yet obvious -- signs of mental illness?

 

 

Elwood
Elwood

Very good read.  For the sake of clarity/accuracy, Iliff is not part of DU. 

klansman
klansman

Wow - i had no clue this guy was a homo.  That sure changes my impression of him now.

 
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