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Army vet gets year in prison for stolen valor pretending to be Green Beret with PTSD

Army Master Sgt. Gregg Ramsdell, at Joint Task Force Guantanamo commend element, pictured serving a Thanksgiving meal to troops on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, 2013. (Army National Guard photo by Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Hiler/133rd MPAD/JTF-GTMO Public Affairs/Released)
August 20, 2020

A former U.S. Army soldier has been given a 12-year prison sentence for stolen valor, making false claims about his service record.

Gregg Ramsdell, 62, who did serve at various points as a member of the Army, National Guard and Army Reserve, made numerous claims about his service and wore tabs indicating he was an Army Ranger and Special Forces “Green Beret,” the Ledger-Enquirer reported. On Tuesday, Ramsdell was sentenced to a year in prison for making false statements and violating the Stolen Valor Act.

Among his other claims, Ramsdell was charged with falsely claiming he had PTSD from seeing “women holding babies while detonating themselves, IED explosions causing severe bodily injuries and death, retrieving body parts and bagging them, having blood and body excrements being blown onto my uniform.”

During the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Melvin Hyde said Ramsdell’s action went beyond “bar bragging” to get free drinks. Hyde said that Ramsdell profited greatly from his deceptions and his actions were an “insult to the people of this country who have been in the service and been wounded.”

Ramsdell, who also reportedly wore a Silver Star Medal and a Purple Heart medal he did not earn, used those claims about witnessing the horrors of war to apply for disability benefits because of post-traumatic stress disorder claims.

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Ramsdell’s service record did reportedly show he served in the Army, the Army National Guard, the Air National Guard and the Army Reserve through periods of enlistment from 1981 to 2014, but not in the capacity he described when he filed for disability benefits. He reportedly applied for benefits in September of 2014 after leaving the military and in 2015 the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did process his request and gave him added PTSD benefits retroactive to when he left the military on June 1, 2014.

Authorities charging Ramdsell said the Army veteran also used his “embellished military record” in applying for a competitive civilian position handling logistics management at Fort Benning, Georgia in June of 2017. At that time, he was also still receiving PTSD-related benefits. The position, which Ramsdell won, paid around $53,000 a year, authorities said.

U.S. District Judge Clay Land, who presided over Ramsdell’s sentencing hearing on Tuesday asked the man, “Do you have any explanation for this?”

Ramsdell responded, “I really have none, sir.”

Land called Ramsdell’s actions shameful and Ramsdell said “I’m extremely, extremely sorrowful for my actions…. It was stupid, and I can’t say that word enough.”

Ramsdell’s attorney, Zach Alsobrook, did ask for leniency for the Army veteran, requesting probation.

Land denied the request, noting Ramsdell’s actions cost U.S. taxpayers. In addition to the 12-month prison term, Land also ordered Ramsdell to pay $76,000 in restitution for his actions.