Holmes Beach mayoral candidate claims he’s a veteran of first Gulf War. He was 15

Holmes Beach mayoral candidate Joshua Linney claims he misspoke in misrepresenting his military service.
Holmes Beach mayoral candidate Joshua Linney claims he misspoke in misrepresenting his military service.

Editor’s note: The original version of this story should have noted that that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs considers anyone who served in the military at anytime between Aug. 2, 1990, and the present day to be a “Gulf War veteran” for purposes of benefits eligibility. Linney was not in the U.S. Army during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in1990-91. However, he did serve in the Army from 1993 to 1996, including a deployment in the Middle East, meaning he is a Gulf War veteran. Read more about Linney’s description of his military service here.

Holmes Beach mayoral candidate Joshua Linney claims in his campaign biography that he served with the U.S. Army in Iraq and that he is a veteran of the first Gulf War.

“I’m a Gulf War veteran whose worked to overcome war, trauma, alcoholism, chemical dependence and PTSD, while living with disabilities, and I conquered them all,” Linney, 42, wrote in a biography submitted to the Manatee County supervisor of elections office and posted on the agency’s website

However, Linney was never in Iraq, according to his discharge papers. And as for his claim to being a Gulf War veteran, the war was fought in January-February 1991, when Linney was 15.

When he was 18, Linney enlisted in the Army in September 1993 and was medically discharged in August 1996, after he fell off a building and suffered a traumatic brain injury for which he receives disability benefits, according to his discharge papers.

The closest he came to Iraq was when he briefly deployed to neighboring Saudi Arabia in 1994, three years after the Gulf War ended. He received a Southwest Asia Service Medal for serving in the Middle East.

After the Bradenton Herald questioned Linney about his military service record, he revised his biography but still claims that he “spent nearly a year traveling between Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Kuwait,” while in the Army.

Linney still claims to be a Gulf War veteran and that he has been diagnosed with Gulf War Syndrome, a multi-symptom medical condition that has affected many veterans of the war.

“The reason I say Iraq to people, I’m not saying it to be misleading,” Linney said. “Saying I flew into Saudi Arabia doesn’t explain what they are asking so it’s easier to say Iraq. It’s not a misrepresentation.”

In his biography, Linney states that while he was in the Army, he turned down an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., to attend airborne and Army Ranger training. He also said he graduated from Advanced Infantry Training.

However, there is no such thing as Advance Infantry Training in the Army. Every soldier who goes through basic training regardless of job description undergoes Advanced Individual Training for their particular assignment. In Linney’s case, he was a cook and not an infantryman.

“I misspoke there,” Linney said. “I wasn’t trying to misrepresent myself as infantry. I know what AIT is and I wrote it down wrong.”

Linney did complete jump school, but there is no indication he attended the Ranger Indoctrination Program, or RIP, a three-week course that must be completed before being eligible to attend Ranger School. Linney claims he was attending RIP when he was injured on a jump and was reassigned.

Discharge papers will typically indicate whether you entered a school and cite the reason for separation if not completed. There is nothing in Linney’s paperwork that he began RIP.

A troubled past

Linney was fairly open in his campaign biography about his troubled past, noting alcohol and substance abuse addictions. He owned up to two DUI’s in 2003 and 2005, but failed to mention several felony charges and multiple drug-related misdemeanors for which he was arrested in numerous locations in Florida.

The 2005 DUI occurred in Bradenton Beach when Linney also was charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injury, a third-degree felony.

Linney said he was driving and went off the road and slammed into an occupied vehicle, though he said he didn’t realize the vehicle was occupied.

“I blacked out and don’t remember driving home or the accident., he said.

According to court records, the charges were reduced in lieu of attending a drug treatment facility.

In 2012, Linney was charged with petit theft and battery, but the charges were dropped. In 2013, he was charged with petit theft for shoplifting at the Cortez Road Walmart, and paid restitution and court costs. He was charged again in 2016 for misdemeanor theft for shoplifting at the Walmart in Palmetto for which he again paid restitution and court costs.

Linney had trouble remembering most of his run-ins with law enforcement, but he said most of the drug arrests were dropped, including one arrest for possession of methamphetamine with intent to sell and another arrest for possession of cocaine.

“I never had any problems with coke,” he said. “It doesn’t work for me and it’s something I never enjoyed..”

Linney is running against long-time Holmes Beach Commissioner and mayoral candidate Judy Titsworth, who was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

In his biography, Linney, an Anna Maria Island native, says he has started several businesses and that be plans to attend the Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport.

“I just want voters to know that I would never intentionally misrepresent myself,” he said. “I don’t want anything hidden. If something is misconstrued, I want to clarify it. I was arrested a ton of times where I was accused, but I never had any criminal intent or malice. I was never trying to be a devious person.”

He went on to say, “A lot of times I had to go through stuff, but that’s why I’m here today. I did some things incorrectly and made mistakes and I’ll probably make mistakes again. If I make a mistake, I try to fix it and not make bad decisions.”