Alert: Congress introduces Stolen Valor Act 2.0
Posted by Tom Tarantino on July 10
On Tuesday, Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) and Congressman Joe Heck (NV-3) introduced legislation -- the Stolen Valor Act of 2011 -- that would punish those who lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other military honors. Mr. Brown and Mr. Heck are pushing for the bill after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the original version of the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 in late June. IAVA issued the following statement today in support of the legislation:
“IAVA is urging Congress to pass the Stolen Valor Act of 2011. There are 2.4 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and for any American to disrespect their service and sacrifice by falsely parading in their shoes and then profiting from such behavior— it's inexcusable,” said IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff. “Far too many legitimate stories of valor and sacrifice go unnoticed and underappreciated. Our country has a moral obligation to support our nation’s veterans by honoring their service, and that extends from protecting their record of service to ensuring that they have our support for the rest of their lives.”
In 2006, President George W. Bush signed the Stolen Valor Act into law making it a crime to lie about military service. But in a 6-3 ruling on June 28th, the Supreme Court ruled that the Act was unconstitutional, saying it violated the free speech rights of those making false claims about winning the Medal of Honor and other combat citations. The Stolen Valor Act of 2011, the narrower legislation proposed by Mr. Brown and Mr. Heck, would make it a federal misdemeanor for anyone benefiting financially from lying about military service, records, or awards. Under the revised legislation profiting would also include receiving federal veterans and health care benefits, government contracts or jobs reserved for veterans.
Punishment typically depends on the size of the gain one receives from fraud. The Stolen Valor Act of 2011 would establish a mandatory federal punishment if the fraud relates to lying about service or awards regardless of the size of the gain. If a person "with intent to obtain anything of value, knowingly [makes] a misrepresentation regarding his or her military service" he or she would be subject to one year in prison if they lied about combat service, special ops, or having a Medal of Honor. All other lies could result in six months in prison. Both conditions would hold fines at the discretion of the court. Read the full text of the proposed Stolen Valor Act of 2011 here.
Tom Tarantino is IAVA’s Deputy Policy Director in Washington, D.C. where he oversees research and policy development through coordination with Congress, Veterans Service Organizations and governmental organizations. Tom is a former Army Captain who served 10 years and returned from Iraq in 2006 after one year of deployment with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.
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