The moment an angry Army veteran confronts a panhandler for faking a military connection by wearing a camouflage uniform has been captured on video, which has quickly gone viral in a big way.
Garrett Goodwin, who spent close to 10 years in the Army as a combat medic, noticed the unidentified beggar while driving down the main road to MacDill Air Force Base on Sunday in Tampa, Florida.
Goodwin approached the panhandler and became suspicious because he was wearing a Junior ROTC patch on his uniform but claimed to be special force. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Army veteran Garrett Goodwin was filmed confronting a panhandler who appeared to be faking a military connection in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday.
2. The video shows Goodwin pursuing the unidentified beggar across traffic telling the man to take off the uniform.
Goodwin then asked a friend to film him as he went back up to the beggar and demanded to see his veterans ID card. The panhandler replied that he didn’t have one.
The video then shows Goodwin chasing the beggar across a busy road, berating him for wearing a uniform which “my brothers died in”.
The beggar seems to be intimidated by the bulky Goodwin, as he steps out into the traffic to avoid him. Goodwin is heard repeatedly demanding:
You take that uniform off.
The panhandler is heard responding:
3. Goodwin says he had a heightened emotional reaction to the incident of “stolen valor” since he was grieving the loss of a Marine friend who recently died of cancer.
4. Goodwin spent nearly 10 years in the Army as a medic. During his service, he also helped in the search for survivors at Ground Zero in the aftermath of the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York.
The footage ends with the beggar walking back across the street as Goodwin demands that he discard the uniform. Goodwin is heard yelling:
Take that and throw it away! Don’t put it back on.
Goodwin served in the Army between 1994 and 2003. He later explained that he reacted strongly to the case of “stolen valor” because a Marine friend of his had just died of cancer. He told My Fox Tampa Bay:
Maybe one of the reasons I was so into this yesterday is tomorrow I’m burying a good friend who is a Marine… I’m putting that man in the ground tomorrow.
And I think that seeing this guy in uniform and wearing the uniform that my brothers and sisters have died in, it was more than I was willing to stand and take.
During his services in the Army, Goodwin also helped in the search for survivors at Ground Zero following the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks.
5. Goodwin pictured supporting the USO in a photo posted to his Facebook page.
Goodwin can’t be absolutely certain that the panhandler he confronted isn’t a veteran, but he is confident that this is the case, judging by his shamed reaction, riding off on his bike after the incident.
And if he’s wrong, he’s prepared to make amends. He told WTSP:
If it turns out he’s an honorably discharged veteran, I personally give him $1,000 cash and personally spend the hours that it takes to get him into the VA system.
After he posted the video on Sunday, it has been shared more than four million times on Facebook. Many viewers believe Goodwin had a good reason to confront the panhandler, but others have criticized his intimidating approach.
Defending the video, Goodwin told ABC Action News:
I think he owed us an explanation. Some people have called me a bully on the internet, and I think he’s a bully wearing a uniform holding up a sign walking up to people’s cars in an intersection looking for money. I think he’s bullying people out of their money.
6. “Take off my uniform!” A vet confronts a panhandler in a case of “stolen valor”.
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