Republican state Rep. Mike Ritze has found himself accused of stolen valor after two of the Oklahoma lawmaker’s colleagues questioned a Purple Heart pin he wore last year.
According to The Associated Press, Ritze did not earn the medal himself but said he wore it because he supports Purple Heart recipients.
Further, Ritze placed the pin on a Disabled American Veterans hat – a national veterans group to which Ritze does not officially belong.
Interestingly, Ritze was the author of a 2009 bill that placed a replica of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the State Capitol – a monument Ritze funded with his own money.
You would think, then, that Ritze at least takes the Commandments seriously… but it turns out he doesn’t even give a damn about the important ones since he just got caught bearing false witness about something incredibly important: He’s been exaggerating his military service.
*An osteopathic doctor from the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow, Ritze has faced criticism recently from two of his Republican colleagues, Reps. Kevin McDugle and Josh West, both combat veterans, who accused him of wearing military decorations he hasn't earned, including a Purple Heart.
McDugle, a former U.S.* Marine*, said he asked Ritze about a small Purple Heart medal he was wearing on his DAV hat during a House ceremony last year honoring veterans. McDugle said Ritze told him he wore the pin because he's a supporter of Purple Heart recipients.
"In my mind, anyone who served in the military is a hero," McDugle said. "There is no reason to embellish your service in the military."
West, who received a Purple Heart Medal after being shot during a firefight in Karbala, Iraq, in 2003, said he also saw Ritze wearing the Purple Heart pin on the House floor.
"I take issue with those who misrepresent their service," West said.*
As for Ritze's membership with the Disabled American Veterans?
Disabled American Veterans notified Rep. Mike Ritze of Broken Arrow this week that he had not documented his eligibility for membership and was being removed from its rolls.
"I ask that you remove any reference to being a member, honorary or otherwise, from your bio or any other document which suggests that you are a member of DAV," the group's National Adjutant J. Marc Burgess wrote to Ritze in the May 7 letter.
Ritze, 69, had claimed he was awarded an honorary membership in the group, but Burgess said the group's constitution prohibits such memberships. The chapter Ritze said granted him membership hasn't been active for 20 years, said DAV Inspector General Edward Hartman.
And now for the dose of irony:
Ritze supported legislation years ago that penalized people who misrepresented their military service:
In 2016, Ritze was among those who voted to increase the penalties for anyone found impersonating a member of the U.S. Armed Forces by wearing unauthorized decorations or medals.