Military Impostors: How (and Why) They Start the Lie

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Nineteen 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers receive the Silver Star Medal during a Valor Awards Ceremony in the JFK Auditorium at Fort Bragg, N.C., Dec. 12, 2008.
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People go to great lengths to fabricate military service. 4 out of 5 people claiming they served in Vietnam did not. Pulitzer Prize winning historian Joseph Ellis was famously exposed in 2001 for claiming to have served in Vietnam although he never even went. The Stolen Valor Act, a 2006 law which made it a federal misdemeanor to wear, manufacture or claim unearned military medals, was recently ruled unconstitutional by a Denver judge. But what drives people to lie about military service?

We speak with a Doug Starner, a veteran who tracks down those who are making up their service. A psychology professor at Tufts University, Sam Sommers, helps to explain the psychology behind this sort of lying.