In my experience people who are trying to fake military experience almost always choose some “sexy” imaginary role for themselves. They claim to have been in some special operations role, or military intelligence, or a pilot, etc. If they claim to be Navy it’s a fair bet they’ll claim to have been a SEAL (BUDS if they are more subtle). If they were a Marine, they must have been in Force Recon. If they were Army they were at least a ranger if not Special Forces or Delta.
If someone tells you he was a truck driver, or a cook, or a supply clerk odds are he’s authentic. If they can talk intelligently about Sergeants Major and their unnatural infatuation with neatly mowed grass, they’re for real. If the stories involve a lot of stuff that could work in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie you at least need to keep digging to make an assessment.
Vets tend to collect stories about the folks they served with, more so than the specifics of their jobs. I have a great story about a soldier I worked with who was counselled repeatedly for his inability to keep track of his personal property because he kept accidentally throwing away his teeth (he had dentures from a hockey accident as a kid).
I had another soldier who was running an escort service out of his single-wide trailer off-post and no one in the chain of command knew about it until we had an unannounced alert at 2 am and he answered the phone, “Diamonds and Pearls.” I had another that always budgeted several hours more than she needed to drive through North Carolina when she was on leave because in her own words, “I’m a black female with out of state plates. It’s not a question of if I’ll get pulled over, it’s how many times. Today I’m planning for 2.”
My point is that soldiers spend a tremendous amount of time with the other folks in their unit, particularly during war time. They learn a lot about each other, and usually have some great stories about folks in their unit – some good, some bad, some more than a little disturbing. Its not a stretch to say that I know more about some of my good friends from the Army than I do about a few members of my family.
So – if you doubt someone’s military credentials and want to see if they are authentic my advice is this: steer the conversation towards funny stories about people who do dumb stuff. If the person doesn’t chime in with at least a few stories about folks they served with, odds are they’re faking it.
This is taken from John Davis’s answer on Quora.