Military Connection: No Win for 2 Veterans: By Joe Silva

Ventura CaseAs a Veteran, how would you react if someone falsely claimed that you said members of your former service had “deserved” to die? What would you do if the person saying this also claimed to have beaten you up for it? And suppose that the person making these claims against you made $6 million from a book that sold 1.6 million copies, in-part due to the false claims against you? What would you do?

The answers to these questions would seem to be pretty obvious. More than likely, you would sue the person making false claims against you. Well, this scenario did play out in real life, and has caused a huge controversy. The person who made this false claim was well-respected war hero, Chris Kyle. And the Veteran who was targeted was none other than actor, former professional wrestler, and former-governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura.

Ventura served in the Navy from 1969-1975, and was a member of the Navy’s Underwater Demolition Team (UDT) the predecessor to the Navy SEALs. Ventura, though not a SEAL, is considered part of the SEAL community, and is often invited to official functions.

Kyle, a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, has been awarded two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars, along with numerous other decorations. He also holds the distinction of accumulating 160 confirmed kills as a sniper during his career, earning him the nickname “The Devil of Ramadi”.  On February 3, 2013, Kyle was killed by a Marine Veteran whom he was helping.

In his book “American Sniper,” Kyle claimed that he got into a fight with a man at a bar near San Diego, and knocked him out. Kyle claimed his foe denounced the war and disrespected fallen SEALs by saying they “deserved to lose some” for their part in the war. When promoting his book, Kyle stated on a radio show that this foe was Jesse Ventura.

Ventura states that the event never happened, and that more importantly, as a Veteran from a military family where his father and brother also served, he would never say remarks to that affect.

Ventura gave Kyle the chance to apologize and retract his story before proceeding with a lawsuit. Kyle refused. Instead, the then-37 year old insinuated that he and the then-61 year old Ventura should fight. Kyle’s book was still on shelves and the claims were still on the internet. Ventura sued Kyle in 2012, before he was killed.

People still condemn the hard-nosed Ventura for proceeding with the lawsuit against Chris Kyle’s estate. And on July 29, 2014 when a Minnesota jury found in favor of Ventura, awarding him $1.845 million from Kyle’s estate, the media vilified the older Veteran.

It makes you wonder what other Veterans would do if their loyalty to their service was called into question. Perhaps Ventura will donate a large portion of his settlement to a Veteran charity, so that some good can come out of so much tragedy.

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Military Connection: No Win for 2 Veterans: By Joe Silva