On Black Friday, Afghanistan veteran Ryan Berk spotted a man dressed in camouflage fatigues while shopping at a mall in Pennsylvania. While it is common for veterans to don their uniforms when they’re out and about, Berk noticed something different about the parading soldier. Aside from having the American flag patch in the wrong spot, Berk saw three Combat Infantryman Badges (CIBs) on the soldier’s outfit, a rare feat for most men in service.
Berk, a recipient of the Purple Heart for his service as a soldier of the 101st Airborne Division, noted how rare it is for soldiers of his age to receive three CIBs. Wanting to know more about the man, he started questioning the “soldier,” who identified himself as Sean Yetman.
Armed with his phone, Berk started questioning Yetman about his experiences. When Berk asked him where he got his three CIBs, Yetman replied that he got all three in Afghanistan. Soldiers are only given one CIB for every campaign that they go through, making it impossible for Yetman to achieve such a feat.
Berk then accused Yetman of being a phony and impersonating a soldier, prompting the soldier to walk away. In the video, Berk was heard shouting: “Here it is, stolen valor at its finest. Why don’t you just admit you’re a phony?”
The confrontation quickly became viral after being posted on YouTube. To date, it has received more than two million views. Now the government is getting involved as Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger about the possibility of a federal crime as shown in the video.
According to The Stolen Valor Act of 2013, it is a crime for anyone to falsely claim to have received any decorations from the military especially if the intention is to obtain tangible benefit, money, or properties.
Recently, there has been a rise in the number of individuals who are using the uniform to receive recognition and military discount perks from stores and restaurants.