State Representative Embellishes Military Record, Colleagues Say
OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma - Two state representatives are accusing another member of embellishing his military record.
They say he's claiming to be a disabled veteran when he's not.
Representative Mike Ritze wouldn't talk with News On 6 but his colleagues are talking about him wearing service medals he didn't earn.
The walls of Representative Josh West's office are lined with the proof of his military service and sacrifice.
He earned the medals, which is why he said it makes him angry to see Representative Mike Ritze wearing military headgear covered with medals.
“When I see someone wearing a medal, on a hat, I perceive they earned that medal,” said West.
Representative Ritze is a veteran and some of what's on his hat reflects his service but Representative Kevin McDugle, another veteran, said Ritze shouldn't even have the hat because it's only for disabled veterans.
“So he's gone to veterans events and spoke as a member of the disabled veterans and a recipient of the purple heart by wearing it. In the military that's how you show what you've done, they put it on your chest,” McDugle said.
Representative Ritze normally isn't shy about speaking on television, but he hasn't returned phone calls about the issue and his Broken Arrow office was closed and dark Thursday.
His two colleagues in the House believe he inflated his service record to score political points.
“He can't prove any of it but he sure has the pins that he was wearing saying that he did,” McDugle said.
“My issue is when you have veterans misrepresenting their service,” said West.
The Disabled American Veterans said Ritze is not a member and he shouldn't have the hat.
His house colleagues believe it's outright fraud.
“So him wearing it in honor of someone else is like me wearing the Medal of Honor to honor someone else, in the military it just doesn't happen,” said McDugle.
News On 6 offered Representative Ritze the opportunity to respond and he did not.