Honor is Everything

Last night, our local ABC affiliate did a piece on the evening news about a case of Stolen Valor. The piece started out with a Marine making a very simple but obviously heartfelt statement. “Honor is everything to a Marine.” That’s what makes this case so hard to stomach. Brandon Blackstone, a Marine himself (and I use that term loosely) was sentenced to 21 months in less than a week ago on several charges stemming from forgetting what honor means.

This story really starts with Casey Owens. This brave young Texan served in Iraq in, if I remember correctly, 2004. While out on patrol one day, his Humvee hit an anti-tank mine. Owens lost both legs and suffered traumatic brain injuries, among other injuries. Owens survived and returned home. He received a Purple Heart for what happened. Unfortunately, after a decade filled with pain and surgeries and the continuing effects of his brain injury, he took his life in 2014. Casey Owens was a Marine, a hero and he served with honor.

The other key player in this story is Brandon Blackstone. Like Owens, Blackstone is a Texan. He was also a Marine and, while I know there is no such thing as an ex-Marine, I think the Corps might make an exception for Blackstone. You see, even though Blackstone went to Iraq around the same time as Owens, he did not suffer the trauma Owens or so many others did. Approximately a month after arriving there, he suffered appendicitis. He never returned to Iraq from what I can tell.

For whatever reason, Blackstone forgot what honor means to a Marine. Instead of doing what he could in the Corps or to honor his fallen comrades, he stole Owens’ story. After returning home, Blackstone embarked on a journey of fraud and misrepresentation. He told any and all who would listen about how he had been in a Humvee struck by an anti-tank mine. He traveled around the country as a motivational speaker based on this lie.

Worse, he managed to con I don’t know how many people and charities with his tale of woe. He received monies, in the thousands it’s estimated, as well as a free house because of his deceit. I have no doubt he’d still be out there conning folks if he hadn’t been caught.

According to the Dallas Morning News, in his guilty plea, Blackstone admitted to lying about receiving a Purple Heart (which got him a mortgage free home from a charity set up to assist wounded warriors. He also managed to draw disability checks for something like nine years based on his stolen valor tale. The latter entailed him forging statements from two Marines who were supposed to have witnessed his injury.

This man, and I use that term loosely, has to serve 21 months in prison and pay the VA $322,654 in restitution for the disability payments he received over the years. Even though he could have been sentenced to more than 20 years, federal sentencing guidelines mandated he serve nor more than this pittance of time. He got credit for taking responsibility for what he’d done. He will also receive credit for time he’s already spent in jail so, at most, he will serve 18 months.

That is not enough, in my mind, not nearly enough.  He has done nothing to shine honor on the Marine Corps. He had dishonored the memory of every man and woman who served this country and sacrificed their lives for the rest of us. Part of me hopes he finds himself sharing a cell with another Marine, one who might have fallen from the side of the righteous but who still remembers what it means to be a Marine.

As the mother of an active duty member of the military, as someone who comes from a family where serving in the military is something we honor and respect, Blackstone gets nothing but my contempt. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Casey Owens. He sacrificed everything for this country. Other Marines I know and respect, Marines who may no longer be on active duty but who will always remember what it means to be a Marine and who will always honor the Corps, all it stands for and, most of all, their brother Marines, deserve so much more than knowing someone like Blackstone once wore the uniform they still hold dear. As for Blackstone, he deserves nothing but contempt and he sure as hell deserves more than 21 months in prison.

About the author

Writer, proud military mom and possessed by two crazy cats and one put-upon dog. Writes under the names of Amanda S. Green, Sam Schall and Ellie Ferguson.


  1. “he sure as hell deserves more than 21 months in prison”

    Yes, he does.

    Ignoring the emotional aspect, I would think that that level of fraud would get at least 3-5 years, add in the forgery and he should have at least 5-7 years – plus paying back the monies he stole.

    Factor in the type of fraud he committed, and I say throw him in a deep hole at Quantico and leave him. But, that is just my bias opinion.

    1. Agreed. I’m wondering if there are state charges that can be levied against him, whether here in TX or elsewhere since he apparently went around the country as a “motivational speaker”. I doubt he did that for free.

      And I agree about a deep hole at Quantico, preferably one with a sign at the top explaining who and what he is and giving those passing by free rein to do as they will where he’s concerned, short of killing him.

  2. I know so many people who need the help from VA disability. Then an able-bodied person (I can’t even call him human) does this. I agree that he should be shoved in a deep hole in Quantico and used for target practice.

      1. As I said, he is what I would happily call an “ex-Marine”. I’d prefer it if his name was purged from the roll and never again linked to the Corps.

    1. Yep. What makes his actions even worse is they will cause those who might donate to honest vet groups to think twice before donating. How many vets and their families has this bastard harmed? He deserves no mercy imo.

  3. I think the poster is wrong in that this loser, Blackstone, has not harmed the Corps’s reputation; no one hearing of this will believe he’s typical. If there is justice in this world it won’t follow from his prison time; rather it will come as his reputation follows him around once he’s released.

    1. Frank, I hope you’re right. Unfortunately, I have no doubt this bastard will not hesitate to change his identity, legally or not, to avoid any fallout once he’s released from prison. My hope is that one of the states where he perpetrated this fraud finds reason to charge him as well and have deputies waiting to arrest him as he walks out of the federal pen.

  4. This is what is wrong with this country now a days…. real criminals get a pad on the back, like the Clinton’s etc., and the innocent and not guilty….. get five to ten years in jail. Hope this idiot get his crime served…within time…and make him think back… and know why he is being punished. God, in the name of Your Son, Christ Jesus, AMEN!
    To Janes Owens, and family, Thank You….for You Service and Sacrifice, God Bless You ALL.

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