Stolen Valor

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Stolen Valor
Stolen Valor.jpg
AuthorB.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley
Cover artistMark McGarry
PublisherVerity Press
Publication date
Media typeHardcover
Pages692 pages
959.704/3373/0922 21
LC ClassDS558 .B85 1998

Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History is a book by B. G. Burkett, a Vietnam veteran, and Glenna Whitley, an investigative journalist. The book counters the view that Vietnam War veterans were broken men and psychopaths, and also provides details of people said to have lied about serving in Vietnam and receiving military awards. The book was self-published in 1998, and won the Colby Award in 2000.


Stolen Valor is divided into 4 parts, along with an appendix.

Part I (The Image) begins with a chapter about B.G. Burkett's time in the Army. The next four chapters detail the author's argument that the image of the Vietnam Veteran was tarnished by a combination of media coverage, Veteran imposters, US citizens' anger against the draft, and a perception of the veteran as a victim.

Part II (The Trauma of War) looks into the diagnoses of Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in Vietnam Veterans and how this is treated by the Veterans' Administration, and the rise in war atrocity accusations against Vietnam veterans. It also does further analysis of the effects of people the authors believe to be Vietnam War veteran imposters on the image of the Vietnam veteran, and specifically focuses on the lack of investigation by the news media into the background of these so-called veterans. This part attempts to counter the assertion that the Vietnam War was one of the causes of homelessness.

Part III (Stolen Valor) describes the wearing of Vietnam War specific medals, ribbons and badges by people who did not earn them. The authors, using the Freedom of Information Act, retrieved records of individuals who claimed they served in Vietnam during the War and received awards, and denounce people whose records do not match their claims, examples of which include William Northrop and Frank Dux. In this section the author also attempts to counter the belief that African-Americans were overly represented in casualties during the war.

Part IV (Victims and Heroes) discusses what the authors believe to be myths about the effects of Agent Orange, profiling pilots from the Vietnam War who flew Agent Orange delivery missions in Vietnam and who have not had an increase in health effects since then. In this section, the author also denounces the Vietnam Veterans of America, calling them "Vietnam Victims of America."

The Appendices provide lists of Medal of Honor awardees, Distinguished Service Cross awardees, Navy Cross awardees, Air Force Cross awardees and U.S. military POWs who survived their captivity.


Burkett pictured with Congressman John Salazar and Stolen Valor

US Senator Jim Webb praised Stolen Valor, calling it "one the most courageous books of the decade".[1] The book was awarded the Colby Award in 2000,[2][3] 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.[4][5]

In 1999, Mackubin Thomas Owens, a Marine infantry veteran of Vietnam, praised the book and Burkett for the effort of finding military imposters, concluding "Mr. Burkett has done an immense service to his fellow veterans, and by extension to his country".[6]

In 2004, Dave Curry from Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) responded to the criticism of VVAW in the book, and in turn delivered a scathing review, saying the book displayed political partisanship, made "errors in research methodology" and misleading statements about Winter Soldier Investigation participants, and denigrated the experiences and motives of veterans who subsequently opposed the war.[7]

In 2008, psychiatrist Paul R. McHugh listed Stolen Valor as one of the five best books on "the factions and follies of psychiatry", citing Burkett's efforts to uncover fraudulent PTSD claims. A 2009 article in Columbia Journalism Review discussed the way Stolen Valor exposed the media's gullibility in failing to fact-check con artists who claim military service or awards, concluding that "no reporter who reads it will ever again crank out a Veterans Day feature without making an effort to verify the subject’s claims first".[5]


  1. ^ Webb, Jim (15 July 1998). "The Media's War on Vietnam Vets". Archived from the original on 31 October 2017.
  2. ^ "Colby Award Winners at the Pritzker Military Library". Pritzker Military Museum & Library. 24 October 2003. Archived from the original on 20 June 2017.
  3. ^ "The Colby Award". Norwich University. Archived from the original on 22 December 2013.
  4. ^ Lawrence, J.P. (11 March 2015). "The War Against Stolen Valor Is Still Raging in Colorado — Where It Started". Archived from the original on 9 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b Working, Russell (December 2009). "A Failure of Skepticism". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 9 February 2019.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Curry, Dave (2004). "Stolen Valor - Stolen Legacy". Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Archived from the original on 18 September 2012.

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