It's again a federal crime for people to lie about having received military decorations or medals.
President Obama signed the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 into law yesterday, June 3. The bill, sponsored by Representative Joseph Heck (R-Nevada), passed both the House and the Senate with overwhelming majorities (390-3 in the House, unanimous consent in the Senate) and was sent to the president on May 28.
Heck's bill revised a broader 2005 version, which was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2012. SCOTUS ruled that the First Amendment protected a person who lied about being a military hero, unless that person did so with intent to fradulently gain from the deceit. The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 addressed that, including a provision that makes it illegal to make those claims to obtain money, property or other tangible benefits.
"I'm pleased that the valor and integrity of our military awards, along with the men and women who have earned them, are once again protected by law. Today's bill signing marks the end of a process that began with a meeting of my local veterans advisory panel and has ended at the White House. It has been an incredibly rewarding process and I thank all of those who have helped along the way in making this bill a law," Rep. Heck said in a press release.
"While the Stolen Valor Act has reached the end of the process, I look forward to continuing my work on behalf of those men and women who have worn the uniform and made great sacrifices to keep our nation safe."
Veterans organizations are pleased that both Congress and the president acted quickly to produce this new law.
"I think this was necessary because people were using it to receive the benefits of decorations of valor, and they were getting monetary benefit from it,"John Stovall, director of national security and foreign relations for the American Legion told Military.com. "That's why we supported the amended version, not to infringe on anyone's First Amendment rights but to protect the reputation and meaning of the decorations."