Less than three weeks after a resolution passed at the 94th National Convention of The American Legion called on Congress to introduce and approve a new Stolen Valor Act, the U.S. House of Representatives has done just that.
The revised legislation, which replaces a law signed in 2006 but struck down last June by the U.S. Supreme Court, sailed through the House by a 410-3 vote Thursday.
“The American Legion is impressed with Congress today,” American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz said. “Those who deliberately lie about military service, wear medals they did not earn or make claims of combat heroism they did not achieve are more than just liars. They are perpetrators of the worst kind of fraud. Their lies are an insult to all who have truly stood in harm’s way and earned their decorations. We raised this issue at our national convention, and the House acted.”
The Supreme Court ruled in June that the former Stolen Valor Act was unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment right of free speech. The revision narrows the scope of the act, focusing on the fraud aspect and profiteering from lies of military achievement. The revised version reflects newly passed American Legion Resolution 238, which states in part:
“False claims of military service and receipt of medals of valor have resulted in literally millions of dollars in fraudulent claims for VA services, as well as related costs of investigation by the VA, and law-enforcement agencies, to uncover false claims, all of which, ‘takes away valuable resources from those who are entitled.’” The full resolution can be read online.
Fines and up to one year of imprisonment would be imposed upon those convicted of the new Stolen Valor Act, if it passes the Senate and is signed by the president.
The American Legion, with 2.4 million members worldwide, is the nation’s largest veterans service organization.