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by Abigail Van Buren

Man Faking Military Service May Find Battle With Real Vets

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend, "Dick," who wears veteran hats -- "Vietnam Vet," "Proud to Be a Marine," etc. -- that imply he was in the service. The problem is, Dick was never in any branch of the military at any time.

Dick claims he's "honoring" them by wearing the hats. But when he goes into a restaurant or other place that offers military discounts, he always inquires about them. And he has never refused the offer of one or admitted he wears the slogans only to honor others and was never actually in the service himself.

I come in contact with real military service people who deserve to wear these hats. I asked a couple of them about what to do with Dick, but you can't print their responses. Abby, what's your take? -- VALUES HONESTY IN OHIO

DEAR VALUES HONESTY: The fact that I can't print the reaction of legitimate veterans to what Dick is doing indicates how offensive and wrong it is. It appears your friend is a small-time, chiseling con man who takes advantage of people's patriotism. Why you would call someone like this a "friend" is puzzling, because you seem to have a well-developed sense of right and wrong.

A word of advice: Sooner or later, people like Dick are discovered. When that happens, it would be better if you weren't around, because people are judged by the company they keep.