Bill to stop vets from falsifying military honors passes House

Charles Dharapak/AP

The House passed a bill Thursday night that criminalizes military personnel for forging military service medals to obtain payment or benefits, the Associated Press reported.

The Stolen Valor Act, passed in a 410-3 vote, circumvents the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision on the subject. The new law would make it illegal for people to falsify military honors with the intention of receiving monetary rewards or benefits.  

The Supreme Court overturned the 2006 Stolen Valor Act in late June, saying that veterans falsely wearing military honors were protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment free speech rights. In that decision, the court did leave open the possibility for the government to prosecute veterans who use false honors to accrue monetary or other benefits.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., introduced a similar bill in the Senate and told the AP he would continue working on this issue until the act of falsifying this information is illegal.

In July, the Defense Department created a database, Valor.defense.gov, to help track military honors recipients. Senior Defense officials had said during a congressional hearing in February that such a database would be hard to create and maintain. Following its creation, Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Erin C. Conaton noted the department would be working closely with the military branches to help track data from past conflicts.

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