When veteran Lindsay Lowery, a stay-at-home mother in Castle Rock, posted a picture on Facebook in January showing her in full miltary regalia, she suddenly became a target of people who accused her of lying about her service. But sometimes those hunting down people who make false claims about their military record — it's called Stolen Valor — turn out to be wannabes themselves and wrongly harass people who've served their country honorably. People like Lindsay Lowery.
The Washington Post just published a piece on Stolen Valor and this unexpected consequence of the movement that was supposed to protect military reputations, interviewing Doug Sterner, a military historian in Pueblo who's become an expert on those veterans who've earned awards, those who falsely claim to have been honored — and the hunters who go after them. "I hate that part of my job," Sterner told the Post of outing frauds. "But it has to be done. But there's some people that feel good about confronting people, and making themselves look big by trying to take them down. But when they do that, they're going to make mistakes."
The Lowery attack was one such mistake, as the Post noted, quoting from our March cover story "War Against Stolen Valor is Still Raging in Colorado — Where It Got Started," but editing out the profanity leveled at Lowery. ("It isn't censored in Westword," the Post notes.)
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Posts and personal messages to Lowery asked how she could have been in an infantry unit, which in the United States military is traditionally all male. “You can do one of two things. Prove that you held an Infantry command — which you never [expletive] did, or remove your post,” one message read. “Otherwise, you’re going to have a real bad time. Embellishing is just as bad as stolen valor. And don’t think for a second that we can’t FOIA your records. Liar.”
A few hours later, the same person posted: “As a matter of fact, never mind. I’ll just have fun exposing your lying [expletive].”
Lowery, a stay-at-home mother in Castle Rock who writes for the Web site Mad World News, had posted the photo on a public page where she uses her pen name, Prissy Holly. Still, her story was real — and she had the documents to prove it, she said. She explained to her accusers that she had been assigned to an infantry unit as a platoon leader, and that the unit had been in charge of a jail and so did not serve in a combat role.
After that, she remembers, “hell was officially released.”
For the record, the censored expletives, in order, are "fucking" and "ass." Here's the photo that inspired the wannabe Stolen Valor hunters to go after Lowery: