There have been a number of stories over the last several years regarding individuals who exaggerated or completely falsified military credentials. The most troubling stories include the faking of military credentials by a school instructor and reports of falsified congressional Medal of Honor awards by individuals who had contributed to the Veterans History Project.
Navy SEAL Tale Was an “Ego-Builder” for Pastor
One of the most recent examples of fake military credentials involves Reverend Jim Moats, who until recently was a pastor at the Christian Bible Fellowship Church in Newville, Pennsylvania. A local newspaper reported that Moats was never a Navy SEAL and never served in Vietnam.
Moats later admitted his tale of being a Navy SEAL was just “an ego-builder.” In order to perpetuate the fraud, Moats carried around the gold Trident medal that is awarded to those who have completed SEALs training (which he bought at a surplus store) and touted a plaque that honors SEALs (which was made by his sons).
One of the lessons that can be gained from this story is to not always believe what you see, especially when the information can easily be proved otherwise.
Verifying Military Service
Much of this could have easily been avoided by submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to verify former military records.
A request must be sent via either mail or fax to the records center. Only a limited amount of information can be released to the general public, but the information typically includes rank, dates of services and where the individual in question was stationed.