By Jackson Hughes
Editor’s note: This is the 18th in a series of stories about new laws that are taking effect, most of them on July 1.
INDIANAPOLIS — Impersonating a veteran in order to receive a discount or any other benefit is soon to become a crime.
“It is sad to know that people wrongly impersonate veterans after all they give for us and our freedom,” said Josh Berger, General Manager of Ann’s Restaurant in Franklin, Indiana.
“Stolen valor,” as the offense is commonly referred to, will become a Class A misdemeanor in Indiana starting on July 1.
Berger said, to his knowledge, the restaurant has not had any issues. However, he can’t say for certain, because servers do not ask for identification.
“I take them at their word…” Berger said. “It’s safe to say that people would get away with that kind of thing, because I would never challenge someone on that regard.”
However, not all businesses are so trusting. Chubbies Shorts, an online retailer located in San Francisco, recently made the switch to ID.me, an online tool that verifies a veteran’s credentials.
“After two years of hard work diving into the ins and outs of offering something like this, we decided to partner with Id.me,” said Joel Ivey, head of customer experience.
Ivey explained the partnership has made the confirmation process much smoother for Chubbies Shorts. Ivey said California has a similar state law making stolen valor a crime.
“[Id.me] gave us the ability to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the people who have access to the program are in fact either active duty or veteran military,” he said.
Similarly, at the Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Outlet Store in Edinburgh, Indiana, employees ask for military ID cards before granting a discount. General Manager Shana Browning said it helps keep track of authenticity.
“Usually, service men and women ask up at the register if a discount is offered, and then show their card,” said Browning.
At family-owned Ann’s Restaurant, however, Berger isn’t ready to start checking military credentials even if impersonating a veteran is about to become a crime.
“If someone is dishonest,” he said, “they will have their time to deal with that internally.”
Jackson Hughes is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.