Two men who lied about serving in the U.S. military have been ordered by a judge to hand-write the names of all 6,756 service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and to write obituaries for the 40 members killed from their home state of Montana.
The unusual sentence was handed down by Cascade County District Judge Greg Pinski for two men charged with separate crimes, who both lied to the court about being members of the U.S. military in order to have their cases moved to a Veterans Court.
As The Associated Press reported, 28-year-old Ryan Patrick Morris and 33-year-old Troy Allan Nelson had been charged with probation violations, but Pinski said that neither will be eligible for release until they complete some extensive writing assignments.
Morris had been charged with felony burglary and was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, while Nelson was convicted of a drug offense and given five years. Pinski suspended three years from each of the men’s sentences, then added a caveat to make up for their false claims of military service.
“Before they can be eligible for parole, Pinski ordered both men to hand write the names of all 6,756 Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; write out the obituaries of the 40 Montanans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and send hand-written letters of apology to several veterans groups identifying themselves as having lied about military service to receive help and possibly a lesser sentence through a Veterans Court,” the report noted.
A judge ordered two Montana men who falsely claimed to be veterans to write the names of all Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan; write out the obituaries of the 40 Montanans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and send letters of apology to vet groups. https://t.co/AN1TCfQPp6
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) August 25, 2019
As the Military Times noted, a number of states have put in place strict laws against those who falsely claim military service. The Supreme Court, in 2013, had struck down existing federal “stolen valor” laws on the grounds of free speech, leading a number of states to institute their own laws.
The Montana case attracted some national attention and kudos from veterans groups. Many shared the story on social media with praise for the judge for taking seriously those who falsely claim military service.
There was more punishment for the Montana men even after their release. After announcing that three years that would be suspended from the sentences, Pinski said that during each of those years, the man must stand at the Montana Veterans Memorial in Great Falls for eight hours on both Memorial Day and Veterans Day while wearing a sign that reads: “I am a liar. I am not a veteran. I stole valor. I have dishonored all veterans.”