TAMPA, Florida (WFLA) – The video went viral in less than 24 hours.
It has already been seen by millions of people, and the numbers continue to grow by the hour.
In the video, a Tampa Bay area veteran confronts a panhandler who is wearing a military uniform, but reportedly never served his country.
The veteran can be seen walking briskly after the panhandler yelling with passion and conviction.
“Take off my uniform. Take that and throw it in the garbage. I don’t want you to wear it anymore. That’s my uniform. My brothers died for that uniform,” former Army combat medic Garrett Goodwin says in the video.
It all started Sunday afternoon. Goodwin was coming back from lunch in South Tampa. He told News Channel 8 what he saw on the corner of Dale Mabry and Gandy made him sick to his stomach.
That’s when he decided to speak up and do something about it.
Garrett wanted to confront the man he calls a “phony.” The panhandler is seen walking along the sidewalk, just down the street from MacDill Air Force Base. However, this panhandler did not have military ID, and when the veteran asked what branch of service the man was in, the answer raised red flags.
Garrett claims the man told him, “Special forces, so top secret not even the VA knows about it.”
Garrett told WFLA-TV he knew better.
“Well, it made me sad at first. I think pain leads to anger and frustration. Then I was disgusted, angry, frustrated, then motivated,” he said.
Garrett explained to us he felt compelled to say something, especially after losing a fellow veteran recently.
Garrett maintains he spoke from the heart, coming from a place of emotion.
“I’m morning my friend and then I see this guy. I see this guy in uniform dishonoring that, and it was more than I can bear. Right is right, and wrong is wrong,” he said.
Garrett called Tampa Police to report the crime of stolen valor, which is a third-degree felony. Tampa Police told News Channel 8 the man was gone when they got to the scene.
Meanwhile, Garrett said he will continue reaching out and helping veterans. Garrett is hoping that people will donate to legitimate veterans’ organizations.
“That way you know where your money is going. And veterans truly need it,” he said.