Evidently, there’s a market for faux vets and their anti-war causes.
The leader of a statewide veterans group who fought for homeless veterans in Colorado Springs was in the Denver County jail on Wednesday, unmasked as a former psychiatric patient who posed as a wounded Marine officer and 9/11 survivor.
Federal authorities are looking into whether Rick Duncan, whose real name is Richard Glen Strandlof, could have pilfered money he raised in the name of Colorado veterans, said Daniel Warvi of the Colorado Veterans Alliance (CVA), the group that Duncan founded.
“We were all taken aback,” Warvi said.
Strandlof, 31, who invented the name Duncan and claimed he was a former Marine captain and 1997 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, never served in the military and falsely claimed that he was in the Pentagon during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the group said.
Two members of CVA said the group became suspicious of the man they knew as Duncan after discovering inconsistencies in his personal story.
In a search of the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office records, for example, they found that the name Colorado Veterans Alliance had been reserved by “Rick Strandlof,” whom they had never met, the group said.
The group said it found that Strandlof had been a patient in a mental hospital in Washoe County, Nev., at the time of the roadside bombing in Fallujah, Iraq, that he claimed left him severely wounded.
CVA members contacted the FBI field office in Denver, which opened an investigation in early May and arrested him Tuesday night in downtown Denver on a traffic warrant originating in El Paso County.
According to Warvi, when an FBI agent asked whether he was Strandlof or Duncan, he responded “both,” then requested an attorney.
……Strandlof was in custody at the Denver County jail in lieu of a $1,000 bond Wednesday.
……Strandlof also told his story in televised advertisements for Hal Bidlack, a retired Air Force officer and Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year in the district representing Colorado Springs.
“We didn’t ask him, ‘You say you were a veteran, show me your ID card.’ We just don’t do that,” Bidlack said.
When I joined the VFW and American Legion, I was required to present proof of my military service, including my ID, and DD214, when I retired. It’s a very simple solution to weed out the fakes from the real vets.
Guess who else bought into his wild-assed tales:
Garett Reppenhagen, a past chairman of the local chapter of Iraq Veterans against the War, said he saw Strandlof collecting money for CVA during an antiwar poetry reading at Poor Richard’s Bookstore in downtown Colorado Springs, telling donors it would be used for shipping care packages to men and women serving abroad.
“I think that everybody kind of gave him the benefit of the doubt,” Reppenhagen said.
I’m surprised that Strandlof wasn’t a member of the IVAW. He’s right down their alley.