Matt Farmer, 26 from Tulsa, OK auditioned in Long Beach, CA, singing “A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cook. He tells a story of being hit with an IED while he was serving with the US military in Iraq. His injury resulted in a traumatic brain injury, and the medication he took to treat his condition was supposed to make him sterile. But surprise! Six months later his wife was pregnant.
But now, the Guardian of Valor site, which seeks to “out people who falsely claim military service and/or claim unauthorized medals or tabs” are reporting that Matt’s versions of events aren’t substantiated by others who were in combat with him.
Many–some anonymously–posted on the website that Matt’s drinking and taking unprescribed acne medications are what led him to have a seizure and be removed from the area of operations.
Here is Matt’s audition, which aired on Wednesday’s San Antonio/Long Beach American Idol episode:
Guys who served with Matt refute his claims:
“I was a sniper section leader attached to his company and lived in the same room with him until he was medevaced from Ramadi because he got drunk while he was taking Accutane,” his alleged former roommate told the website. “He was never involved in one single direct fire engagement, was never wounded, and made up this whole lie to try and make his story sound good to ‘American Idol.’”
Sgt. David Johnson, who said he served with Farmer, claimed his former colleague was “a fraud.”
“His actions endangered the rest of his platoon and company and forced the rest of the company to be searched in what is called a ‘health and welfare’ for illegal substances,” Johnson said.
Another said he was taken home after having seizures from “unauthorized” medicine use, another said the “Idol” contestant “never saw combat, never got blown up, never got a TBI,” and a team leader of the United States Army Infantryman, John F. McManus, said Farmer’s televised story was “a bold-faced lie,” and that he has “used the blood, sweat, and tears or real, hard-working, tough, brave and honorable Infantry soldiers to paint himself as someone he was most certainly not.”
Matt responded to the allegations, via Guardian of Valor, and used the typical “my statements were taken out of context” excuse:
“I wanted to contact you directly and let you know that ‘American Idol’ took certain things I said out of context. Three pictures that were shown were not ones provided by myself but stock photos THEY used. I at NO time gained any monetary values about my story that was used on ‘American Idol’ and want it to also be known that I am no longer a part of the show.”
“I’m FIRM in the fact that I know I had talked about it over 6 hours of interviews that I discussed certain missions and stuff that we did on a day to day basis. Then I mentioned to a producer in an interview that I had an accident while in country and remember ‘waking up in Kuwait.’ This is where this was all pieced together. I am sure you have watched the clip and can realize that it is chopped up.”
Matt insisted that he had asked the show to keep his backstory focused on his young daughter and wanted no “claim to fame” for anything related to his military service.
Matt confirmed that he did “overdose on pills,” and after being medivac’d out and later sent to Germany, where he said he was told that he had “PTSD and anxiety disorder.” He denied that he was “kicked out” of Iraq or the Army.
Since he did not make it past Hollywood, I expect Matt will be edited out of any Hollywood footage of him that exists, and that will be the end of it. So far, the press hasn’t picked up on this story at all. Back in the old days, Matt’s tale would have already entered the news cycle.
Sure, American Idol producers probably overdramatize sob stories for maximum effect. But this guy’s story doesn’t quite pass the smell test…