U.S. Sen. David Vitter today made the following comments after the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down as unconstitutional the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, which he co-authored with U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.):
"I'm really disappointed that a few California judges decided to overturn a common-sense law that was unanimously supported by the U.S. Senate," said Vitter. "The judges said that lying about receiving military honors didn't really cause harm to anyone, but try telling that to the brave veterans who have to put up with impostors fraudulently claiming to have served our country with distinction. I'll continue to work with veterans' organizations and my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see that our veterans receive the respect and honor they deserve, and I hope that the Supreme Court reverses this unfortunate decision by the Ninth Circuit."
"The Purple Heart has a long history, and the men and women who have earned it because they were injured in the line of duty haven't done so out of a desire for fame and fortune," said Rick O'Brien, Commander of the Military Order of the Purple Heart Chapter 177 in Baton Rouge. "It shouldn't be degraded by those who haven't earned it. Those who have dishonored the Purple Heart and other service medals by lying about their military service deserve to be put in jail, and I appreciate the efforts of Senator Vitter and others to ensure that our veterans receive proper respect."
The Stolen Valor Act made it a federal crime to falsely claim to have earned a Congressional Medal of Honor, Purple Heart or any other decoration or medal for distinguished military service. In addition to the Stolen Valor Act, Vitter has cosponsored several pieces of legislation to assist veterans, including a bill to ensure full concurrent receipt of retired and disability compensation for all disabled veterans and a bill to reform the VA budgeting process to safeguard against future shortfalls. He is also conducting roundtable discussions this month with veterans' groups across Louisiana.