This week, Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nevada, introduced VFW-supported legislation making it a crime to knowingly benefit from lying about receiving a military valor medal. The Stolen Valor Act of 2013, or H.R. 258, is similar to the bill that passed the House last session but never made it into the final Senate-House National Defense Authorization Act agreement.
VFW has been very vocal and intimately involved in the stolen valor debate, providing an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in defense of the previous iteration of the Stolen Valor Act. The bill currently has 63 original cosponsors and was referred for consideration to the House Judiciary Committee, the same panel that approved Heck’s bill last year.
Heck’s latest effort is an attempt to reinstate penalties for lying about being a military hero. The Supreme Court struck down the previous law last summer on grounds that it infringed on free speech rights. Violators would face a fine and up to one year imprisonment. The fine could be up to the amount of money or property a person received as a result of the lie.
The bill does not cover every military award, just those for valor or proof of combat veteran status. The list includes the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, Air Force Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart. Also covered would be campaign badges, including the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Combat Action Badge, the Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Ribbon and Combat Action Medal.
Your VFW looks forward to working with Heck and his staff on getting the bill passed, and we will keep you posted on progress as the bill advances in the new Congress. Check back regularly for updates.