Dear Abby Stolen Valor Incident

| May 8, 2021


Dear Abby writer Jeanne Phillips is a syndicated columnist.

The columnist for the Dear Abby column weighed in on an uncomfortable situation.

Dear Abby: Our shopping trip turned into a ‘stolen valor’ incident

My friend’s request put me in an awkward situation. Was I too easily offended?

DEAR ABBY: While shopping with a friend recently, I was put in an awkward situation in regard to a store discount.

Having served in the military, I qualify for a discount at that particular store. She was aware of that discount, and while she was at the checkout lane, she yelled at me, “Hey, what’s your phone number for your military discount?”

We are both retired and living on one income. I am married and live on my husband’s pension. She’s retired from a job in the medical field, owns her home and shows up conveniently at friends’ homes for coffee and food.

I was so dumbfounded at her request for the number that I gave it to her.

I’m uncomfortable going shopping with her now. I haven’t addressed it with her, and I have tried to avoid any shopping trips with her since that incident. It feels like she’s stealing my valor since my husband and I served in the military. Am I too easily offended?


DEAR RETIRED: I’m glad you mentioned valor in your letter because it’s time for you to summon up some more. Unless you want this person to continue taking advantage of you, set her straight. She is not entitled to the discount, and you must learn to refuse if and when she puts you in that position again.

It is odd for the lady’s friend to put her in that situation.  Putting that aside, would it be the same thing if you were with a military veteran and your friend asked you to buy the items for them and they would give you the money once outside the store?

What if they weren’t with you and your neighbor asked you to pick them up a can of paint while at the store and gave you some money.  Say the paint cost $30 per can and that is what your neighbor gave you.  If you got the 10% discount, would you refund him the $3, pocket it for your military service, or pay as a separate transaction while at the store?

What if you were at Applebee’s enjoying your free Veteran’s Day dinner and your non-veteran friend asked you for a French Fry?

So many ethical questions.  I don’t mean to trivialize it, but there are situations that fall all along the stolen valor spectrum.

Do you see this all as just splitting pubic hairs, or as some would say – much ado about nothing?

Category: "Teh Stoopid", Stolen Valor

Comments (29)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Sgt K says:

    “splitting pubic hairs?” We’re getting awfully specific here, aren’t we? And she should have put her “friend” in her place.

  2. KoB says:

    You want a military discount? Go enlist! They’ll take just about anybody lately. They let the spapos join. I think that is when it all started going downhill.

  3. Anonymous says:

    She should ask her friend for the $3.

  4. MarineDad61 says:

    It’s not only exploiting a “friend”,
    but also exploiting businesses nice enough to give out a military discount.

    She should have said NO.
    It’s the only answer, except for those who allow themselves to be exploited.

    Think Atlantic City panhandlers wearing the black & yellow
    Vietnam Veteran ball caps.

    • Just An Old Dog says:

      The Business doesn’t give a shit.. just like Senior Citizen’s Discounts, pimping out that 5% off or a free drink is nothing more than Public Relations/ Advertising to get more people in the door.

      • NHSparky says:

        To quote another senior, “Depends.”

        On items with huge profit margins, likely not. On items they barely cover at cost?

  5. 5JC says:

    If you want to defraud the store to help a friend that is your business but keep in mind it screws it up for everyone else that is eligible for the discount due to their service status.

    Lowes or Home Depot or wherever makes no money on military sales. Margin at Lowes is 6.5%. So they are actually paying you to take their stuff. If the store thinks that they benefit is not being used as they intended they might just stop doing it.

    • Poetrooper says:

      5JC, I doubt that they are losing anything–in fact I’m sure they have factored into their business plan the additional business the military discount brings them and adjusted their overall pricing so that the cost of the discount is spread over their entire customer base.

      The business is not paying for our military discount, their other customers are, which is why ol’ Poe doesn’t feel any guilt about taking it.

      They’re not losing money–you can bet on it.

    • MI Ranger says:

      My question is: Can they rightfully exempt a military veteran from Taxes due to it? In South Carolina that discount equals just about the taxes you are paying on the purchase. SO if they are making 6.5% profit that is before taxes, which is than still 6.5% when Tax is not figured in.
      Home Depot only used to give the discount on Veterans Day, than Lowes made it a national thing (started keying it to your MyLowes account instead of making young clerks be able to spot a military ID) and Home Depot had to reconsider.

  6. Mike W says:

    Personally, I don’t take the discount, and stay away from restaurants on Veterans Day. I don’t like the crowds, and I earn decent money to quibble over 10%

    • SFC D says:

      I worked at Lowe’s part time after retirement and before getting a real job. On Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veteran’s Day, we could double-dip and take the military discount and the employees discount.

      • Ret_25X says:

        the only time I use the “veterans discount” is when I buy cigars. On the Cigars International site, they use the id me system so I’m comfortable with it.

        If I want to buy a high end item at a discount, I use my blue ID brigade ID and go to the PX.

        As for restaurants, never. It is not worth it for us.

        My wife and I are both vets…she did 8 years as a signaleer as well…but we make the bread to buy dinner…LOL

    • 5JC says:

      I used to own some rental properties. I calculate I have saved about $8K over the last 20 years at Lowes and later at HD when they started offering a discount. That is a good chunk of change.

      • Poetrooper says:

        Ol’ Poe’s saved several thousand with Lowes, too. I’ve even had managers agree to increase my discount (one doubled it) if I promised to buy everything for a project from them and not split it up between them and Home Depot.

        That’s another reason I’m sure they’re not losing money on the military discount.

  7. Hack Stone says:

    Hack Stone is sending this one to the booth for review. Please provide your ruling.

    Back in the day (circa early 1982), Hack was serving his first sentence at MCCES 29 Stumps. Hack had a classmate who was a Contract PFC, because his Recruiter put his name down for two enlistment referrals. So, by the time he graduated Basic Electronics, he was a Lance Corporal. He took leave between Basic Radio Fundamentals, and while on leave, decided that he should take an extended vacation and was in Unauthorized Absence for 29 days. Comes back to Stumps, gets busted to PFC, and his high school sweetheart is now with child. She comes out to 29 Stumps, they have a shotgun wedding at the base chapel, and move into a shithole in town. Him being an Enlisted Guy entitled to only the finer things in life, goes ape shit buying everything, and Hack means EVERYTHING, on credit, rent to own, and bounced checks. Finally graduates, goes to 1st ELMACO, where he continues his financial irresponsibility, falls out of PT runs, and is a less than stellar Marine.

    So, after about three years, he and The Marine Corps come to the mutual decision that he should seek employment elsewhere. Not sure what the character of his discharge was, but he did not fulfill his four year enlistment, and most likely it was “for the good of the service”.

    So, decades later, Hack sees him on Facebook. He has a state issued Marine Corps license plate, the other day he posts a photo of him wearing a Marine Corps cap, and just today he posts a thread about meeting a Vietnam Veteran and they struck up a conversation because this former classmate of Hack was wearing his Marine Corps bling.

    Okay, yes, he did graduate MCRD, so he did “earn” the title, but as to (see what Hack did there?) his time in the Fleet, it was mostly spent passing bad checks on Pendleton’s and throughout Oceanside. The only positive aspect of knowing him is that all of the dumb shit that he did when Hack knew him was killer material at beer summits that Hack participated in.

    So, should someone tossed from the service be strutting around in their military branch bling?

    • 5JC says:

      5JC thinks that there is a delta between “what people should and should not do” and “What people are allowed by an open society to do”. For example you shouldn’t sleep with your neighbor’s wife but lots of people (around 50% or so in the US) do it.

      5JC served in the Army for 24 years and the only Army bling he owns that are seen in public are Military License plates and an old Army ball cap with the Star that he wears to the range sometimes to keep the brass from falling between the safety glasses and the eyebrows. Most of the time he wears other ball caps.

      Mostly the more bling that 5JC sees a person displaying the more apt he is to believe the person is a fraud or a huckster. As a police officer when he has contact with people that start the conversation with “I am a veteran” that is normally a red flag that the person was a shitbag veteran much like in Hack’s Story. In fact every person that he has every talked to that was carrying a sign that said “Homeless Veteran, please help, God bless” was indeed not a veteran. Most of the time when 5JC talks to a real veteran it is because someone just ripped off their stuff or ran in to their car with the military tags and maybe drove away.

      5JC did stop a man a few years ago who was driving while drunk. The man immediately told 5JC he was a Vietnam Veteran. But 5JC had seen the man at VFW meetings wearing lots of bling in the past and was already aware of this detail. 5JC then noticed on the man’s driver’s license that he was born in 1958, something that 5JC did not know previously. This upset 5JC slightly and launched some key events that changed the man’s life so that he could get back on the road to redemption and being closer to God.

      To circle that back around, 5JC kind of prefers that the shitbags wear lots of bling. That way he can tell who the players are.

      • Hack Stone says:

        Hacks military bling is modest, relatively speaking. A Marine Corps lanyard for his Government CAC and employee ID for the proud but humble woman owned business that sells software to the federal government formerly located in Bethesda Maryland, and an occasional cap with a Marine Corps emblem. Hack purchased an olive drab cap with an embroidered Eagle Globe & Anchor from the Henderson Hall a few years back. That crossed over to unserviceable, so it was taken out of rotation. Unfortunately, the Henderson Hall no longer carries that particular cap, most of what they have now is probably what someone who just graduated MCRD would purchase to complement his US Marines Road Guard Jacket (AKA Boot Attire). Hack purchased one of those jackets when he got to 29 Palms, because he was under the mistaken impression that it doesn’t get cold in Southern California, so he left his old weather civilian attire back home in Jersey. Then Hack wore the jacket to the Enlisted Club. Hack still has tinnitus from the calls of “Boot!” ringing in his ears. Hack passed that jacket on to his younger brother Rollin Stone, although he wouldn’t ship to PISC FOR another eight months.

    • MI Ranger says:

      To agree with Dear Abby, you should not provide it, and simply reply I am sorry I don’t gie that out.
      For the second I’m of the same opinion as 5JC! Those who tend to shout it out the loudest were usually the worst when they served. Unless Hack Stones’ “friend” was kicked out as dishonorable he is technically authorized to wear the bling of the Corps that he did not love when he was serving.
      I personally have a veterans plate on my “cars I kept after they were paid off” but not on my daily driver. The have a few golf hats, that I occasionally wear to places like the range. Two from NTC (Tarantulas and Scorpions) and the other from the 506th Inf Reg…most people think the one is just a Band of Brothers memorabilia and have no idea the unit was reformed for a while. They also don’t get the reference to 2 of Spades!

  8. Steve 1371 says:

    Earlier this month at Sanford Fla. airport while waiting to board I noticed the Police go into the ramp of a newly arrived plane. Shortly after they came back out with someone wearing S&W bracelets in a wheel chair as in cuffed to the chair. This fella was loudly proclaiming to be a combat vet and my first thought was I seriously wonder if he was even a vet at all. I am not sure of why he got the wheel chair Police escort but I know there have been mask protesters causing a ruckus on board aircraft lately.
    Just yesterday at a location near my AO I came upon a coin drop road block that was marked” Veteran” . I hate to see veterans beg and did not stop or drop any coin in the boot. I did take my wife out to the VFW fish fry last nite and also purchased a raffle ticket for the Glock they were raffling off even though I am not a Glock fan.
    I also spent a small fortune on the political campaigns of verified vets running for office last election that well deserved to be in office. I was very disappointed that my man John James did not win but what do you expect with all the voting thievery that went on.

  9. Smitty says:

    Sometimes, when feeling generous, I’ll see a bum with a “veteran” sign and stop my car. I ask, “what was your unit?” If he stumbles or looks confused, I’ll drive on.

    • Skippy says:

      We had a homeless camp alone the Santa Cruz River
      In NW Tucson Az. It was clean to my surprise and one
      Of the folks was a army vet. He had his 214 and a VA
      card and was a alcoholic. I had no issues bringing him beer and food. He was A broken hart broken mind,
      Individual. I never thought twice about helping out
      Fast forward to a week ago in El Paso
      A turd was using the I’m a vet sign
      With the T-shirt claiming he was
      And he after questioning, said turd
      Failed to answer basic questions
      About basic training and other entry
      Level army life.

  10. Jason says:

    I was asked to do this for a friend once and ONLY once. This was at Lowe’s and for I think a chainsaw (like $40 off) and I would not do it for this friend. Of course they got pissed at me but so be it. Like KoB said, you want a discount, go enlist!

  11. NHSparky says:

    If they’re that fucking cheap?

    Yeah, I went there. Do I use my Lowe’s discount? Sure, but I doubt it has added up to more than a few hundred bucks over the years since I bothered to apply for it.

    I have a boat license frame and a ballcap from my first boat I wear. Aside from that or the occasional Ranger Up shirt, no bling. And I like it that way.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Do not, even if it’s an option, get the custom license plate for an AAM… no one wears the lapel pin for a reason.

  13. ChipNASA says:

    Saw this and no.
    No one that is my freind that knows I served would put me in this position and if they did I’d be all like, GFY.