Democrats Criticized by Veterans for Wearing Army Uniform at Event Without Military Service

A Democrat vying for Congress in Michigan, Curtis Hertel, is being urged by a group of veterans to apologize for donning part of a U.S. Army-issued uniform during a Veterans Day ceremony, even though he has never served in the military.

In a letter obtained by Fox News Digital, 28 veterans accuse Hertel of creating a false impression of military service and engaging in “stolen valor” by wearing the jacket at the Michigan Veterans Memorial event on November 11. The letter specifically points to the fact that he was not listed in the program for the ceremony.

“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, despite not having served in the Army or any other branch of the U.S. military,” the letter read.

“We respectfully request that you publicly apologize to all American veterans, in Michigan and elsewhere, and pledge not to repeat the offense,” it read.

“As you must be aware, wearing official military-issue attire, especially at a ceremony honoring those who have served, leaves the clear and unmistakable impression that you personally served in uniform. As a public servant who has frequently professed to support veterans and veterans’ issues, you must also know that this brand of ‘stolen valor’ is frowned upon,” it added.

The letter pointed out that Hertel failed to explicitly inform those present that he had not served in the military. It highlighted that while the jacket, a retired uniform no longer utilized by the Army, is associated with the Global War on Terror era, a period during which Hertel was eligible to serve based on his age, he chose not to do so.

“Additionally, because you were not issued the jacket by the Army, you must have obtained it from someone who was, which means you were aware of its status as an official uniform when you acquired it,” it added.

As per U.S. Army regulations, the physical fitness uniform is deemed unsuitable for events off the military installation, including memorial services, funerals, weddings, inaugurals, patriotic ceremonies, and similar functions.

Retirees are allowed to wear the physical fitness uniform but not in the context of ceremonies or gatherings. In response, Hertel informed Fox News Digital that the jacket was a gift from his brother-in-law, a U.S. Army officer.

“My brother-in-law, an army major who is about to retire, gave me that jacket as a Christmas present. I wore it on Veterans Day to honor him and the other members of my family who served,” he said.