sbrooks's picture

On June 3 President Obama signed P.L. 113-12, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013. The bill passed the House of Representatives on May 20 by an overwhelming vote of 390 to 3. Two days later, the full Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent.

This law makes it a crime for individuals to knowingly benefit from false statements about receiving certain military awards and decorations. Rep. Joe Heck (NV) – a fellow Legionnaire – introduced the bill in January, right after the start of the new Congress. Senators Dean Heller (NV) and Jon Tester (MT) introduced the Senate companion bill (S. 210) which had 22 co-sponsors.

The original Stolen Valor Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-437) made it a crime to lie about military service and awards, but it was overturned by the Supreme Court on June 28, 2012. Based on the Court’s ruling, Rep. Heck's legislation should be constitutional because it focuses on those who seek to benefit from misrepresentations of military service and awards. His more narrowly-focused law states, "whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both."

The new law covers issues such as lying to receive veterans or health care benefits, lying to obtain a government contract to be awarded to a veteran, or lying to get a job reserved for a veteran.