|Author||B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley|
|Original title||Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History|
|Cover artist||Mark McGarry|
|Publisher||Verity Press, INC., Dallas, TX.|
|LC Class||DS558 .B85 1998|
Stolen Valor: How the Vietnam Generation Was Robbed of Its Heroes and Its History is a self-published book by B.G. Burkett and Glenna Whitley which asserts both that there is a popular view of Vietnam War veterans as broken men and psychopaths and that this view is false. In addition the book purports to document "wannabes": people lying about Vietnam experience, often when they had never been there. B.G. Burkett is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War who served with the 199th Light Infantry Brigade as an ordnance officer and rifle platoon leader. Glenna Whitley is an investigative journalist who writes about crime and the legal system.
Stolen Valor is divided into 4 parts and 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 Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Vietnam Veterans and how it is treated by the Veteran's Administration and the rise of war atrocity accusations against Vietnam Veterans. It also does further analysis of the effects of people, the author believes to be Vietnam War Veteran imposters, on the image of the Vietnam Veteran, specifically, the lack of investigation by the news media into the background of these possible veterans. This part delves into the mislabeling of one of the causes of homelessness, the Vietnam War.
Part III (Stolen Valor) describes a widespread wearing of Vietnam War specific medals, ribbons and badges by people who did not earn them. The author, using the Freedom of Information Act, was able to retrieve records of individuals who claimed they served in Vietnam during the War and he used this method to denounce people who didn't have records to support their service, badges, ribbons and medals. One example is William Northrop, who continued to make his claims more than a decade after the book was released. In this section, the author also demonstrates, by using the official government sources that minorities participated in rates similar or slightly lower than their percentage of the populations.
In Part IV (Victims and Heroes), the author discusses what he believes to be a myth 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."
A 2009 article in Columbia Journalism Review discussed the way Stolen Valor exposed the media's gullibility in covering con artists who claim battlefield heroics or participation in atrocities.
Mackubin Thomas Owens, a Marine infantry veteran of Vietnam, praised Burkett for finding impostors by doing "something that any reporter worth his or her salt could have done: he used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to check the actual records of the 'image makers' used by reporters to flesh out their stories on homelessness, Agent Orange, suicide, drug abuse, criminality, or alcoholism."
Vietnam veteran Dave Curry, in a review published by Vietnam Veterans Against the War, said Burkett and his coauthor displayed political partisanship, making "errors in research methodology," making misleading statements about Winter Soldier Investigation participants, and denigrating the experiences and motives of veterans who subsequently opposed the war.
In 2000, the book was awarded the Colby Award.
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- A Failure of Skepticism; Columbia Journalism Review; December, 2009
- Mackubin Thomas Owens, NBC’s The '60s: Slandering an Entire Generation of Warriors, February 1999
- Dave Curry, Stolen Valor - Stolen Legacy, Vietnam Veterans Against the War newsletter, Spring 2004