A SCOTS veteran is calling on the government to act after a new wave of brazen con men faking military careers to blag benefits.
Dr Hugh Milroy – a former RAF Wing Commander, now chief executive of Veterans Aid – has said that the charity is seeing the fake soldiers trying to access their benefits services ”every other day.”
The con men often fake a whole history of military service in order to curry sympathy and qualify them for assistance.
He said: “This type of impersonation is a national disgrace. Cases appear every other day.
“I simply cannot understand why our politicians, who often tell us that military service is unique and to be applauded, are so passive about the way the good name of the armed forces is brought into disrepute in this way.
“A vast number of British people have served with our forces and are proud to have done so, but ‘stolen valour’ is rife.
“We’ve heard of five cases across the country in just the past week.
“Just yesterday we were told about a man and woman begging, saying they were homeless soldiers.
“He claimed to have been in the Black Watch, but didn’t know about the red hackle, and she claimed to have been an infantry soldier in the Grenadier Guards, a regiment in which there are no female infantry soldiers.
“This lying and exaggerating goes on everywhere, and with impunity.
Many military campaigners are calling on the government to enact a law similar to one in the USA, which makes it an offence to impersonate a member of the US armed forces.
One such “Walter Mitty” faker was uncovered earlier this year.
42 year-old James O’Hara, from Cathcart, Glasgow posed as an ex Royal Marine Commando by sending photos of another soldier to the Royal British Legion.
He did so in order to give them the impression that he was an injured veteran who had been shot in Iraq – tricking his way into a fundraising event.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The MOD offers veterans the Defence Privilege Card and the Veterans Badge to enable them to draw recognition for their valued service.
“Whilst it is not against civilian law to wear a uniform, veterans’ badge or campaign medals which have not been earned, it is an offence to do so if it amounts to fraud or a similar offence such as obtaining services dishonestly.”