Veterans demand apology
A group of veterans in Michigan is demanding an apology from candidate Curtis Hertel over a uniform controversy. In a letter addressed to Hertel, the veterans expressed their concern over his decision to wear an official U.S. Army-issued uniform at a Veterans Day event, despite not having served in the military.
Accusations of “stolen valor”
The letter accused Hertel of engaging in “stolen valor,” as wearing official military attire can create the impression that he served in the armed forces. The veterans called for a public apology to all American veterans and requested that he refrain from repeating such actions in the future.
The letter highlighted that Hertel failed to clarify to event attendees that he did not serve in the Army or any other branch of the military. It also pointed out that although the jacket Hertel wore is retired and no longer in use, it is associated with the Global War on Terror era, during which he was eligible to serve based on his age.
The letter further criticized Hertel for obtaining the jacket from someone who was issued it by the Army, implying that he was aware of its official status. The veterans emphasized that the physical fitness uniform Hertel wore is not considered appropriate for ceremonies or gatherings off military installations.
Hertel defended his actions, stating that the jacket was a gift from his brother-in-law, an Army officer, and that he wore it on Veterans Day to honor his family members who served. He argued that he has always been a strong advocate for veterans and their issues.
Support from organizers and campaign
Vietnam veteran Jack Devine, who organized the Veterans Day event, came to Hertel’s defense, calling the criticism ridiculous and affirming Hertel’s support for the military community. Hertel’s campaign pointed out that the now-retired jacket is available for public purchase and emphasized his record on veterans’ issues as a state senator.
The controversy surrounding Hertel’s uniform choice comes as Michigan gears up for a closely watched election in 2024. Both Republicans and Democrats have a vested interest in the outcome, with Republicans aiming to strengthen their majority in the House and Democrats hoping to flip the chamber. Hertel is expected to face off against former Republican state Senator, who served in the Army for over 20 years, in the general election.
Note: The news article has been edited for clarity and brevity.