09/04/2012 12:58 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How Do You Spot Someone Who Is Lying About His/Her Military Experience?

This question originally appeared on Quora.
By Phoebe Gavin, US Army Vet, Iraq War Vet, @ohsoordinary

Anybody who talks about war like it was a fun action movie is lying.
  1. War is not fun, it is traumatic.
  2. You actually spend a lot of time doing nothing.
  3. If your tour was like an action movie, you're probably not authorized to tell stories about it.

By Jon Davis, Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps

Typically, I start to question those who go straight to their special forces experience or say that much of what they did was classified.

Most of us, myself included, had support jobs and didn't spend their whole time kicking in doors or taking down enemy fortresses. The coolest thing I personally did was get shot at by rockets a few times over the course of several months.

My original job was to work on computers -- yes, there are Marines who work on computers. Someone has to. After that I was made a rifle/pistol coach just because I was the best shot of the computer nerds. (Fact: Being a computer nerd and a Marine does not correlate to good shooting ability, but with me it did.) This is where most my weapons experience comes from, training with them and teaching other Marines how to use them, not from much combat experience. The second time I was deployed, it was as a small unit leader after my squadron took on an "infantry" role. I say infantry loosely, since they really guarded the nicest base in the whole country. Seriously, how do you convince a PFC that he is at war when there is a Pizza Hut on his base?

The second time I went to Iraq, the only time I got shot at was when an Iraqi soldier misfired his AK near where I was. Honestly, the hardest thing for me was keeping my junior Marines aware that they were still at war.

The first time I went, I was legitimately scared a few times when rockets hit the base, but that was in 2005, and much later, it just turned into a large wait-it-out situation.

I tell you all this so that you will see what a normal military job is like. Most of us do get scared from time to time, but most of us are also not doing much that is very cool. If you speak with someone who has a cooler story than mine, be suspicious. I would be.

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