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HomeGeneralMilitary Vets Call Out Michigan Democrat Over “Stolen Valor,” Demand Apology

Military Vets Call Out Michigan Democrat Over “Stolen Valor,” Demand Apology

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A picture of Former State Sen. Curtis Hertel.
Source: Pinterest

A group of Michigan veterans are calling out a Democrat running for Congress. They want him to apologize for wearing a U.S. Army-issued uniform during a Veterans Day event despite having never served in the military.

According to a letter signed by 28 veterans and addressed to Former Michigan State Sen. Curtis Hertel, the vets accused him of giving the impression that he served in the military. Also, they accused him of committing an act of “stolen valor” by wearing the jacket.

The letter focused on Hertel’s attendance at a November 11, 2023, wreath-laying ceremony at the Michigan Veterans Memorial in Lansing. Hertel allegedly wore a now-retired U.S. Army-issued physical fitness jacket while speaking at the event.

“We, the undersigned veterans of U.S. military service, write to you today to express our deep concern over your conscious decision to wear an official U.S. Army-issued uniform while speaking at a Veterans Day event last month in Lansing,” the letter read. “Despite not having served in the Army or any other branch of the U.S. military.”

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“We respectfully request that you publicly apologize to all American veterans, in Michigan and elsewhere, and pledge not to repeat the offense,” it read. The letter added that Hertel wearing official military-issue attire “leaves the clear and unmistakable impression” that he served in uniform. 

In addition, the veterans wrote that they frown upon Hertel’s “brand of stolen valor.” In addition, it reiterated that the jacket is from the military era when Hertel could have served. Consequently, wearing it reinforced the false impression that Hertel is a veteran.

Hence, the Michigan vets implored Hertel to refrain from wearing military uniform he did not “earn.” “We ask that you refrain from wearing a military uniform you did not earn through sweat and blood,” they said. “We hope you understand, agree with our reasoning, and follow through with the requested apology.”

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Following the letter and backlash from Military vets online, Hertel responded to the open letter. He said the fuss was a misunderstanding over what he intended as a gesture of respect.

When reached for comment, Hertel revealed the jacket was a gift from his brother-in-law. According to the Former Michigan State Senator, his brother-in-law is a U.S. Army officer. “My brother-in-law, an army major about to retire, gave me that jacket as a Christmas present,” he said. 

“I wore it on Veterans Day to honor him and the other members of my family who served,” Hertel added. Vietnam veteran Jack Devine, an organizer on veterans’ issues in Lansing and across Michigan, defended Hertel in a statement.

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“Curtis has always been a relentless advocate for veterans,” Devine said. “It is ridiculous they are attacking him for supporting his family and members of the military on Veterans Day.”

Similarly, Hertel’s campaign pointed to the now-retired jacket being available for purchase by the public. They touted his record on veterans’ issues and sponsored a bill to create a new cemetery. In addition, they supported legislation to make it easier for Michigan’s service members serving overseas to vote. 

Furthermore, they pointed to his supporting a bill that helped disabled veterans’ spouses receive a property tax exemption. As the race for Michigan’s 7th Congressional District starts, Hertel hopes to flip the chamber. 

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