Gerald “Jerry” Harrell; another panhandling phony Vietnam veteran

| October 3, 2015

Jerry Harrell

Street corners are full of homeless phonies pretending to be veterans, thinking that will tug at the heart strings of passers-by. Very few of them are veterans, though. The first time I saw it, was about twenty years ago on CNN when a reporter was interviewing a homeless Desert Storm veteran who had been discarded by the Army after his service. He told stories about the blood and gore he had seen – the inhumanity of US troops to their Iraqi enemies. The reporter asked him when he had deployed to Desert Storm, he replied “May”. So he was either there three months before Hussein invaded Kuwait or he got there three months after the war had ended. I could tell by the reporter’s face that he realized that he had a phony on his hands, but he continued the interview because the story was too good to let the facts get in the way.

The Vietnam-era draft dodgers have had a field day with Hollywood casting call stereotypes of drug abusing veterans who started their habit during the war and then brought it home with them. Here’s one Gerald “Jerry” Harrell. His story is told in the panhandlers’ newspaper “Spare Change News” which gives the hobos an excuse to loiter on street corners by giving them something to sell;

Jerry Harrell claims

Similar to his father before him—a Korean War veteran— Harrell found himself heading straight for Vietnam upon graduating from high school in 1970. Nowadays, he compares his experience in the war to the young men returning, traumatized, from Afghanistan today: “I saw napalm. I saw people die with their eyes open. You prayed to stay alive, and believe me, I prayed.”

In Vietnam, like so many other U.S. servicemen, Harrell discovered drugs. He recalls smoking opium and says that the marijuana grew as “big as trees” and that “soldiers were bringing back seeds and planting them.” In this regard, his experience was common: drug use was rampant among U.S. servicemen and a 1971 report by Congressmen John Murphy and Robert Steele indicated that 15 percent were addicted to heroin and half had experimented with opiates.

When Harrell returned from his tour of duty, he worked in various jobs while living with his mother. “This was when the job market was starting to go up,” he recalls. “When my mom passed away, I lived with my brother then my father … I was doing drugs. My father couldn’t cope with me anymore and in 1989 I became homeless.”

How many times have you heard a similar story? Just like the tearful, heart-wrenching stories you heard on the street, this one is false, too, double checked by Mary;

Gerald Harrell FOIA1

Gerald Harrell FOIA2

So, if you’re ever in Somerville, Massachusetts, near the Starbucks on Elm Street in Davis Square, be sure to stop by and give old Jerry my regards, will ya?

Category: Phony soldiers

Comments (28)

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  1. C. Long says:

    They have their own paper? That’s hilarious. I guess it’s akin to those little ASL cards they sold in the past.

  2. The Rump State of Archduke Ed Baker, WW1 Monarch Impersonator says:

    When the weather’s bad. GERALD HARRELL also uses the MBTA station entrance on Holland St.


  3. 3/17 Air Cav says:

    The only truth in his bullshit story is that he lived with his mother!

  4. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    “My father couldn’t cope with me anymore and in 1989 I became homeless.”

    What?! Daddy kicked him out of the house just because he was pushing 40 and a drug addict? Talk about injustice! Poor guy. Notice the way that quoted line is worded. “My father couldn’t….” and “he “became homeless.” Man, he’s got that victim shit down pat. There really is nothing else to say about this asshole.

  5. C2Show says:

    My god, thats where my old boss is from when I was stationed in Westover ARB. Might have to let him know of a dirtbag hanging out on the streets. He loves to gives phonies grief.

    • The Rump State of Archduke Ed Baker, WW1 Monarch Impersonator says:

      Please do so.

      • Glenn Lego says:

        I have often wondered why “veterans ” have to panhandle when if they are for real, they can get some assistance from various veterans groups or the VA itself? Or there are rescue missions or soup kitchens that can also help homeless people.

        • C2Show says:

          That is how you can tell most of these phonies are fakes. Most veterans are often too proud to take handout like these guys do. Nor do vets pimp their stories out like this guy does.

  6. The Rump State of Archduke Ed Baker, WW1 Monarch Impersonator says:

    Homeless Empowerment, Inc ( Cambridge, MA) d/b/a Spare Change News has a ridiculous member-pandhandler page called a “vendor page” on their website containing these lies.

    Despite months of complaints they refuse to remove the offending page or control Gerald Harrell. They are making money off this.

    According to groups for the homeless, less then 10% of these fake vendors are homeless. Gerald Harrell lives in subsidized housing.( A Somerville Housing Authority bldg. on Powderhouse Blvd.)

    Harrell lies in the interview about SCN being a step out of homelessness. He and 90% of the member-panhandlers are not homeless.

    This bogus charity is as bad as Gerald Harrell.

    (If you try to view the site it’s off-line half the time, due to a problem with the web host. A message says “Bandwith Exceeded”. )

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      Make a hardcopy of the TAH piece, including comments, and post it around the area where the douche panhandles. Of course he will pull them down but it might bring you a little joy for a little while and, more importantly, piece Il Douche off.

  7. Thunderstixx says:

    Another shitbag in the annals of shitbaggery…

  8. MSG Eric says:

    People have been organizing “homeless” to pan handle for a while. In my neck of the woods they have people who pick them up, drive them to their “zone” and pick them up again at the end of their shift.

    Veteran, single mother, they took ma jawb!, whatever the necessity is to get money.

    There’s a guy hanging out on the freeway near me that has a sign saying “need money to get to Buffalo” and he’s been standing there for 3 years or so. By now he’s probably made enough tax free money to buy a ferrari to drive there.

    Pan handling is big business for some.

    • Joseph says:

      Yes it is a good business as I see the same panhandlers in the same spots daily. I read somewhere that in India begging is a profession and they have to bid on the good spots.

  9. Tony180A says:

    Yeah same thing here. There is one guy in particular who has a sign that reads “Young family with new baby please help”. He posts up at the entry to Lowe’s and he makes quite the pitiful sight. He’s there 7 days a week for hours on end which makes me wonder to myself, why doesn’t he put this much effort into getting a job and supporting his family?

    Maybe the begging job is more profitable and accommodating to his chosen lifestyle. I know everyone at some point in life runs into situations beyond there control and need help in one form or another. But to become a professional panhandler does not seem a viable means of rising above lifes challenges.

    • A Proud Infidel®™ says:

      Actually, yes there are “professional panhandlers” who do make real money doing that, one was exposed for making upwards of $75k a year doing that and a few News Shows have highlighted that.

  10. MSGRetired says:

    Gonna get this out to all my friends here in MA.. What a shit sack, might have to take a ride out that way for coffee and a Throat Punch !

    • 2/17 Air Cav says:

      A sign you’ll never see: “Sold food stamps for cash. Spent the money on drugs/booze. Children hungry. Please help!”

      • C. Long says:

        Around here they ask you right in the store. They’ll buy your groceries for 50 cents on the dollar. Even do it creatively, they’ll buy large food items and sell them right in the parking lot.

        • Hondo says:

          And you’ve reported that to the local LE in . . . where?

          • C. Long says:

            I haven’t, probably should though. Not sure what if anything they would do or could do. I’ve heard that the best they can do is a trespass from the stores but I’m not familiar with the laws that govern that sort of thing.

          • CLAW131 says:

            Hondo, I’m thinking Kentucky.

            In a previous thread, C. Long says he was directed to the state AG to get some paperwork that was lost in a storage building fiasco. (I wonder if that means his mother’s basement got flooded?). He says he went to Frankfort to get it.

            • C. Long says:

              Yes, I live currently in Kentucky.

              • Jarhead says:

                Very good Schlong. Finally answered a question in spite of the fact that it was not posed to you, but rather in comment form.
                Now please try progressing to those with a “yes” or “no” answer. Don’t EVER think you will finally be let go of your demons by somebody giving up and forgetting you! Not as long as I am alive and asking. N F way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • C2Show says:

          This occurs quite often in Massachusetts, usually at Price Rite, never at Big Y grocery store because they are too pricey for welfare folks. This happens in alot of other states too though.

      • Kat says:

        Insert after please help. Sold stamps and children STILL HUNGRY!

  11. Green Thumb says:


  12. Kevin says:

    I work for the VA helping vets with employment. One day as I was going on the road for work I saw a person who looked like one of our vets panhandling. All sorts of email went around saying we needed to help this vet which we were. Later on when asked why he was panhandling and not working his therapy job at the VA he said he made more panhandling.