Americans have become accustomed to terrorist organizations using the holidays to issue threats, but these threats typically come from al-Qaeda, or any of the many assorted oddball extremists and causes. Such organizations rely on the significance and symbolism of such commemorations to push their own backward, ill-informed, jaded agendas.

The press has taken a page from the terrorist playbook by choosing Memorial Day as an opportune, symbolic moment to attack Chris Kyle, the honored dead, and to run an offensive against the military and veterans as a whole. The Intercept chose to dissect Chris Kyle’s reputation last week, joining in the emerging trend of propagating creative (read: deceptive) editorial that has opened up a new rhetorical dimension in communication from the agenda-based press.

The argument made by the Intercept challenges Chris Kyle’s DD-214, and rests on speculation provided by anonymous sources, contextualizing the comments, and reading into the unwillingness of Kyle’s former commanders and teammates to comment on Kyle and his military record. If the Intercept had bothered to look at the military separation process for the generation of a DD-214, it would note that nothing can be listed on the DD-214 without official and verified records and documentation to support their inclusion. This process is often painstaking for many military service members, as they scramble to collect their records for separation from service.

This is a necessity due to the military’s absolutely disgraceful and poorly managed official personnel management system, unrealistic time management given by commanders to separating soldiers, and a steady practice of failing to provide service members with the appropriate documentation to support their achievements. Across the broad spectrum of the Department of Defense, there has been an ongoing inability to track and record the complete record of all service members. This problem only expands after a service member has separated from service.

If the Intercept wanted to attack the military, there is ample space for their offensive on the lines of the DoD’s multilayered command structure. Hopefully, what has now happened to Chris Kyle, and the exposure of ongoing DoD failures to properly record and house the records of all current and former service members, will be addressed. Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter, that’s your cue to start choking out the admin command across the services.

Regardless, the fact remains that no service member can simply pick and choose what is on his or her DD-214. To believe otherwise is naive, and if it were true, there would be no stolen valor among veterans as they could have enacted the press tactic of “creative editorialism,” and deceptively selected what their service record should read. Yet, that’s not how it goes, and I challenge the Intercept to walk beyond speculation and prove that one can simply insert whatever one so wished into their DD-214.

Chris Kyle Deserves Better than Trial by Press

Read Next: Chris Kyle Deserves Better than Trial by Press

Nonetheless, the deceptive editorial published by the Intercept, which chose to attack Chris Kyle’s service record, took off in a media firestorm, and with very little opposition to their accusations.

Counter to the claims of the Intercept, SOFREP has also obtained Chris Kyle’s Certificate of Release of Discharge, or DD-214. Section 18 states,

 CONT BLK 13-CORPS ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL (W/”V”), GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM EXPEDITIONARY MEDAL, NAVY AND MARINE CORPS ACHIEVEMENT MEDAL, NAVY AND MARINE CORPS COMM MDL (W/”V”), BRONZE STAR (W/”V”), IRAQI CAMPAIGN MEDAL, SILVER STAR (2), BRONZE STAR (W/”V”)(5),  GOOD CONDUCT MEDAL (3). SER-42827-09-8982-PDM {Emphasis added.}

CERTIFICATE OF RELEASE OF DISCHARGE FROM ACTIVE DUTY

Chris Kyle’s DD Form 214 was creatively and deceptively distorted by the Intercept, the shock doctrine attack article forwarded along just in time for Memorial Day. Chris Kyle’s complete eight-page discharge documentation can be viewed here.

The Intercept article challenges Chris Kyle’s honesty and assigns his fame as a reason for the alleged cover-up. The authors, Matt Cole and Sheelagh McNeill, wrote,

“The discrepancy raises new questions about Kyle’s credibility and highlights a continuing controversy in the SEAL community over members exaggerating or distorting their war records.”

Further, the Intercept challenges Chris Kyle’s military and personal standing. Scott McEwen, who coauthored “American Sniper” and was extremely familiar with Chris Kyle and his record, had verified Chris Kyle’s record with the DoD, the Department of the Navy, and SEAL command prior to the publication of  the book and prior to any of Chris’ national fame. In response to the Intercept article, he told SOFREP,

“The accuracy off all commendations and medals were based on records taken directly from Chris’s official DD214 and interviews of Chris and his teammates. The manuscript was submitted to the DOD/Navy/SEALS for review – and there was never any argument as to the nature or extent of in his official records. I have seen no official data that questions these numbers and I stand by my friend, his record and his legacy as a hero.”

American Sniper, a Hero Regardless of recent attacks on military record

Read Next: American Sniper, a Hero Regardless of recent attacks on military record

Scott McEwen reviewed the Intercept article and reexamined it, listing the DD-214 in the article, forwarding it to me, and made the point that Chris Kyle did not give a damn about medals. He continued,

“Buck, so you know this is the DD214—with medal page highlighted—that was provided to Chris Kyle upon his leaving Navy. This doc was taken from site that posted it on original story, but I note no difference with that in my file.”

Points:

  1. No one ever stated to me—or Chris that I am aware of—that there was anything inaccurate in this.
  2. I was told by medics that Chris was wounded (fragged) on multiple occasions—for which he received treatment—some of which would have clearly qualified him for Purple Heart. I am confirming whether any will go on the record. Note: This does not exonerate inaccuracy—IF THERE IS ANY—but it shows his disregard for medals.
  3. Chris never gave a damn about medals. Period.

The fact remains that the Intercept ran with obscured records from within the DoD’s antiquated, poorly managed, and often erroneous official military personnel record system. The report further contradicts itself resting on the argument that one file system is accurate while the other is inaccurate. Yet, the A/B testing of any grounded veteran without an agenda will tell you that the DD-214 is the most accurate and most thoroughly checked record any service member will receive from their military service. If there is any argument against the DD-214, it is thanks to the military’s pitiful record keeping system.

Realistically more honors and awards are not recorded on a service member’s DD-214. Even the copies of records that a service member keeps are not recognized by the serving administrative personnel who complete the DD-214. Every entry on the DD-214 must be supported by records, which must be thoroughly verified. If for instance, a service member only has their copy of an award and the DoD authority in charge of record keeping has, (as usual), lost part of their record – the service member’s copy is a wasted piece of paper, and it will not be added to the DD-214. So whatever the Navy did with Chris Kyle’s record’s before sending it to the Intercept, remains a case for the gremlins in the machine – if we’re playing speculative Devil’s Advocate. There is no reason not to suspect tampering with Chris Kyle’s record. Yet what has realistically occurred is the result of the on-going gross incompetence, and outright negligence of the military’s personnel management system; a management failure from small unit to Pentagon level command, which has systematically failed countless service members.

Meanwhile, many arguments for lying in the press have been presented, but the only justified argument was based on real investigative journalism. Ken Silverstein, who went undercover to expose Washington’s corrupt lobbyists, is one such example. What Mr. Silverstein did was no different from what many federal agencies do to investigate crime, and he did not deceptively make assumptions on the documentation that supported his findings. What has been arranged against Chris Kyle by the Intercept is the kind of foul play organized by the likes of Katie Couric. There has been a meaningful manipulation of Chris Kyle’s military record for a shortsighted political goal. The Intercept’s attack on Chris Kyle was editorially warped to meet the ideological beliefs of the journalist involved and was not in the pursuit of the facts.

Armed with the complete picture, which is that the Intercept strived to deceive by way of creative and deceptive editorial choice, I now write,

The discrepancy raises new questions about the Intercept’s credibility and highlights a continuing controversy in the news and media over journalists exaggerating or distorting their reports.

Featured Image – Sailors open an American flag before a Naval Support Activity Souda Bay Memorial Day event. U.S. Navy, Wikimedia Commons.