A Michigan Democrat is under fire from veterans who say he wore an Army-issued uniform jacket at a Veterans Day event despite never having been in the armed forces.
Former Michigan state Sen. Curtis Hertel, who is running for Congress in Michigan’s 7th District, said the fuss is a misunderstanding over what was intended as a gesture of respect, according to Fox News.
An open letter Tuesday from 28 veterans accused Hertel of “stolen valor” for wearing an Army-issued physical fitness jacket at a wreath-laying ceremony in Lansing on Nov. 11.
How does this still happen? From a veteran friend in Michigan. “This guy @CurtisHertelJr is a non-veteran running for congress and showed up at a Veterans Day event to speak in old Army PTs.”
— Sam Rogers (@RealSamRogers) December 15, 2023
“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.
The veterans called on Hertel to “publicly apologize to all American veterans, in Michigan and elsewhere, and pledge not to repeat the offense.”
“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,” the letter said.
“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 said that because the jacket is from the military era when Hertel could have served, it reinforced the false impression that he is a veteran.
“You will note that at the top of this letter, we referred to you as Senator, a title you earned by winning election to that office, even if you no longer serve in that capacity,” the veterans wrote.
“We ask that you reciprocate, return the favor to veterans, and refrain from wearing a military uniform you did not earn through sweat and blood,” they said, adding, “We hope you grasp why we were disturbed, agree with our reasoning on this matter, and follow through with the requested apology.”
Hertel told Fox News his brother-in-law gave him the jacket.
Former state Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D), who announced his MI-7 run today, says D.C. needs to “[stop] worrying about their politics and [start] worrying about American families.”
1. Working class tax cut
2. Bring supply chains home/auto jobs to MI
3. Gun control pic.twitter.com/2WDljGaQn7
— Rachel Louise Just (@RLJnews) July 10, 2023
“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.
Veteran Jack Devine, who had joined Hertel as a speaker at the Lansing event, pushed back against the letter.
“Curtis has always been a relentless advocate for veterans. It is ridiculous that he is getting attacked for supporting his family and other members of the military on Veterans Day,” Devine said.
Hertel’s campaign said the jacket is available for anyone to buy.
Army regulations say the physical fitness uniform is “not appropriate for parades reviews and ceremonies.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.