B. G. Burkett
B.G. Burkett (right) with U.S. Rep. John Salazar
|Notable works||Stolen Valor|
Burkett was the son of an air force colonel, and grew up on a military base. As a child his "heroes were not sports figures like Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays but the fighter pilots who had blasted the Luftwaffe out of the sky". Burkett states that life on a military base imbued in him "an understanding that the military was the guardian of the freedoms enjoyed by the civilian population."
Burkett enlisted in the US Army in June 1966. He joined the 199th Infantry Brigade and fought in the Vietnam War. After returning from the war he started a career in finance. Burkett has a Master of Business Administration.
Burkett says he got the idea to write the book Stolen Valor after hearing too many news reports about mentally unstable people who were supposedly Vietnam veterans. Burkett began fact-checking whether the people were actually veterans by applying for their military records through Freedom of information. Burkett says he checked over 3,500 people's claims to have served in Vietnam, and found 1,700 of them had fabricated their stories. According to the Columbia Journalism Review, despite being self-published, Stolen Valor obtained "cult status" within the military. The book was awarded the Colby Award in 2000, and has been credited as providing the inspiration for the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which made it a crime to falsely claim to have been awarded military medals.
Burkett was instrumental in sending a man named Joe Yandel to prison. Yandle, who was serving a life-sentence for killing a liquor store attendant during a robbery in 1972, had claimed he had turned to drugs and crime after returning scarred from two tours of Vietnam. Yandel's story was covered by Mike Wallace for 60 Minutes, and sympathy for his story was credited with influencing the commuting of his sentence and his release on parole. While researching his book, Burkett uncovered that while Yandle had served in the military, he had never been deployed to Vietnam. He took his evidence to 60 Minutes, who subsequently re-interviewed Yandle, who admitted he had lied. Yandle's parole was revoked in August 1998.
In 2005, Burkett co-authored a paper for the British Journal of Psychiatry, which focused on concerns "regarding the validity of combat exposure reports of veterans seeking treatment for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder".
- Burkett, B. G., and Glenna Whitley. Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History. Dallas: Verity Press, 1998. ISBN 0-9667036-0-X
- Burkett, B. G., and Glenna Whitley. Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History. Dallas: Verity Press, 1998. ISBN 0-9667036-0-X Page 4.
- Lawrence, J.P. (11 March 2015). "The War Against Stolen Valor Is Still Raging in Colorado — Where It Started". Westword.com. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019.
- Working, Russell (December 2009). "A Failure of Skepticism". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019.
- Owens, Mackubin Thomas (February 1999). "NBC's "The Sixties": Slandering an Entire Generation of Warriors". Ashland University. Archived from the original on 6 May 2015.
- Webb, Jim (15 July 1998). "The Media's War on Vietnam Vets". JamesWebb.com. Archived from the original on 31 October 2017.
- "Colby Award Winners at the Pritzker Military Library". Pritzker Military Museum & Library. 24 October 2003. Archived from the original on 20 June 2017.
- "The Colby Award". Norwich University. Archived from the original on 22 December 2013.
- Goldberg, Carey (August 27, 1998). "His Vietnam Tale Exposed as a Lie, a Killer Is Back in Custody". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 27, 2015.
- Frueh, BC; Elhai, JD; Monnier, J (2005). "Documented combat exposure of US veterans seeking treatment for combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder". British Journal of Psychiatry. 186.