Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, welcomed the Department of Defense's recent announcement to establish a searchable database of military valor awards and medals.
"I am pleased that the Pentagon has announced plans to create a searchable database," said Chaffetz. "As a nation we honor those who so bravely defend our freedom. Preventing stolen valor is critical to preserving the dignity of the honors bestowed upon our men and women in uniform."
On February 29, 2012, the National Security Subcommittee held a hearing addressing the need for a searchable database. Since then, Chaffetz has been drafting legislation that would create a database for those who have been awarded medals while bravely serving in our Armed Forces. With the DOD's commitment to proactively pursue this project, Chaffetz can forego the lengthy process of passing legislation and can instead press ahead to support the DOD's efforts.
"I look forward to seeing DOD's proposal for the database and am happy to assist in any way I can. I want to ensure that an easily accessible, cost effective system is put into place that also maintains the privacy of our veterans," said Chaffetz.
During the February hearing Chaffetz pointed out that in 2005, Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act that would impose fines and imprisonment for those who falsely represent themselves. According to the Veterans Affairs Inspector General, 78 arrests were made between January 1, 2010 and September 30, 2011 from stolen valor investigations. These arrests generated over $10 million in restitution and roughly $5.4 million in administrative savings and recovery of taxpayer dollars. Chaffetz continues to stress the benefits of maintaining an adequate database to track and promptly access service records.
The Pentagon plans to brief Chaffetz' staff on their database proposal later this week.