Legion holds hearing on Stolen Valor allegations

By Francis Racine, Special to Seaway News
Legion holds hearing on Stolen Valor allegations
A handful of individuals, some veterans, gathered to hear the outcome of a hearing into claims of Stolen Valor by Terrance Birch, on October 12. Pictured is Friends of Vet’s Past President Gary Samler, Linda Wales, who contacted Stolen Valour Canada as well as Marc Houde, who served as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan. Photo Francis Racine

CORNWALL, Ontario – A hearing into an alleged case of stolen valor took place at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 297, on October 12.

Outside the building were a handful of individuals, some veterans, who had gathered to hear the outcome of the said hearing, held behind closed doors and attended by several of the Legion’s Executive members.

The hearing stems from accusations from Stolen Valour Canada, a veteran’s group whose mission is to expose individuals who wrongly display medals and/or lie about their military past. The group has claimed that Terrance “Terry” Birch has no legal entitlement to four medals he has worn in the past as well as the Sovereign’s Volunteer Medal, based on his service record.

None of the group’s claims have yet to be proven in court and as of press time, no charges had been laid by the Cornwall Community Police. Wearing medals that aren’t legally obtained is a criminal offence in Canada.

Stolen Valour Canada also accused Birch of making false claims regarding his career, including being wounded by a landmine during the FLQ Crisis in 1970.

Linda Wales, who first reported her concerns to the group last year, was amongst the individuals having gathered outside the Branch. “Terry Birch was my cadet instructor cadre, in Val-Cartier Quebec for army cadet camp,” said the woman. “He was our hero, I don’t use that term loosely. He protected us, he took us under his wing.”

Following a General Meeting, Wales contacted Stolen Valor Canada, who in turn replied in June 2019, stating that they would investigate the matter.

As of press time, the results of the hearing were unavailable, as were comments from Birch. The latter did attend the Branch but was reportedly escorted out.

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