House passes Stolen Valor Bill 390-3

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House passes Stolen Valor Bill 390-3

From Stars and Stripes:

People who falsely claim they have received a military medal in order to obtain money or government benefits could face up to a year in jail under legislation that easily passed the House on Monday.

The Stolen Valor Act, sponsored by Nevada Republican Joe Heck, is a second attempt by the House to revive a law on fraudulent claims to medals that was struck down by the Supreme Court in June last year. The legislation is identical to a measure that passed the House overwhelmingly last September but saw no Senate action before the last session of Congress ended. The vote Monday was 390-3.

I can almost anticipate a comment asking who the "three liberals that voted against it" were.  Well, it wasn't liberals, it was three Republican, libertarian-leaning Representatives: Broun (GA), Amash (MI) and Massie (KY).

Because of the decision in Alvarez, the Congress tried to tighten up the language of this bill.  It makes it more like various fraud statutes, as this portion makes clear:

As rewritten, the bill more narrowly focuses on those who lie about receiving medals "with intent to obtain money, property or other tangible benefit." That could include those who claim medals in order to receive veterans benefits, land a government contract or get a job reserved for veterans. Offenders face fines and up to a year in prison.

The bill, said Heck, "resolves these constitutional issues by clearly defining that the objective of the law is to target and punish those who represent their service with the intent of profiting personally or financially."

As an article on the front of the Legion page right now makes clear, we've long supported this measure:

Last August, Legion leadership adopted Resolution No. 283, calling for amendment of the old Stolen Valor Act to “provide that the elements of fraud be incorporated into the previous…legislation” and resolved to back any new legislation that would meet the concerns expressed by the Supreme Court. That is what Heck’s bill did and, in late March, American Legion National Commander Jim Koutz wrote a letter of support to the Nevada congressman.

In early February, a companion Stolen Valor Act of 2013 was introduced into the U.S. Senate by Heck’s fellow Nevada Republican, Sen. Dean Heller, and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont. That bill is still under committee consideration.

Should be a press release coming out later that I will append to the end of this post.

UPDATE:  Here it is:

American Legion calls for Senate to pass new Stolen Valor Act


WASHINGTON (May 21, 2013) – The American Legion is calling on the U.S. Senate to pass a new Stolen Valor Act, which would address areas that were previously ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new Stolen Valor Act would make it a crime to profit from lies about military awards, as opposed to the previous law which criminalized the wearing of unearned medals.

“Last night the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a new Stolen Valor Act by a 390-3 vote. To have only three opponents in today’s divided environment speaks volumes as to how much the American people want this to become law.  Delegates to The American Legion’s National Convention last August unanimously passed Resolution No. 27, which calls for passage of this legislation. I am calling on all of our members – in fact, all Americans who support America’s  true military heroes – to contact their senators and tell them to join with Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada and pass his bill immediately,” said James E. Koutz, national commander of The American Legion. “The House of Representatives and, in particular, Rep. Joe Heck of Nevada, should be commended for their decisive action.”

With a current membership of 2.4-million wartime veterans, The American Legion was founded in 1919 on the four pillars of a strong national security, veterans affairs, Americanism, and youth programs. Legionnaires work for the betterment of their communities through more than 14,000 posts across the nation.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.