A Puzzle? Or Stolen Valor? Military Connection

Purple Heart

By Debbie Gregory.

John James Lavoie served in the U.S. Marine Corps for over 20 years, and that is certainly something to be proud of. But there’s a possibility that it wasn’t enough for him as he is now in the position of having to clear his name.

Lavoie has been accused of “Stolen Valor,” which refers to non-veterans donning veterans’ gear or service members wearing medals they did not earn.

Lavoie wears a Purple Heart Medal, a Bronze Star and a Silver Star. But according to the National Archives in St. Louis, his service records do not confirm that he was awarded any of them.

Further complicating the matter, Lavoie’s service records that he has in his possession are completely different from his service records from the National Archives.

The DD 214 verifies service history, and the DD 215 usually corrects any minor mistakes on the DD214. But why there’s a difference between what’s recorded in the archives and what’s documented on Lavoie’s DD 214 and DD215 is puzzling, if the document are genuine.

The red flags? There are a few:

  • Lavoie’s DD215 is dated Feb. 25, 1993.However, the characters used on the DD 215 to write the date, as well as list all the medals, were written in a font, Calibri, that didn’t even exist until 2004.
  • Lavoie’s name is misspelled at the top of the document. A misspelled name would render the form nearly useless if a veteran attempted to use it to obtain veterans benefits like the GI Bill, or Department of Veterans Affairs benefits.
  • Every acronym listing Lavoie’s medals is wrong: the Silver Star listed as SST, the Bronze Star listed as BSw/v, the Vietnam Service Medal as VMS. The Marine Corps Individual Records Administration Manual lists the Silver Star as SSM, the Bronze Star with Valor as BSMV, and the Vietnam Service Medal as VSM

The issue of stolen valor has risen to the forefront in the military and veterans community. Photos and videos of those caught fraudulently wearing uniforms or military awards regularly make the rounds on veteran websites and Facebook feeds, prompting disdain and anger among those who served. Stolen valor is especially important to them because many knew friends who died earning the same medals the impostors wear dishonestly.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.