Senator Jim Webb announced today that he will introduce "The Military Service Integrity Act of 2012," which could bring criminal penalties to any individual for making a false claim to have served in the military or to have been awarded a military medal, decoration, or other device in order to secure a tangible benefit or a personal gain. The legislation was drafted to comply fully with the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment restrictions outlined recently by the Supreme Court decision United States v. Alvarez, which struck down the original Stolen Valor Act of 2005.
"Profiting from the misrepresentation of military service or the award of a decoration or medal for personal gain undermines the value of service and is offensive to all who have stepped forward to serve our country in uniform," Senator Webb said. "The Supreme Court has outlined a very clear way forward to bring accountability to such reprehensible actions. The legislation I am introducing will do so within the scope of the protections offered to all Americans under the First Amendment."
Senator Webb, who served as a Marine rifle platoon and company commander in Vietnam, sits on both the Senate Armed Services and Veterans' Affairs Committees. A former Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy, he was the author and original sponsor of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Senator Webb's legislation would make the false representation of military service or the award of a decoration, medal or ribbon or other device authorized by Congress for personal gain punishable by a fine or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both. The legislation would also reinstate measures dating to 1947 that would make it a crime to manufacture, sell, attempt to sell, import, or export U.S. military decorations or medals authorized by Congress for the armed forces except when authorized under regulations made pursuant to law.
The legislation encompasses such tangible benefits or personal gains as communications in pursuit of government benefits related to military service; a resume or other communication in the pursuit of employment or professional advancement; communications for which financial remuneration is involved; and those designed to affect the outcome of criminal or civil court proceedings or to impact one's personal credibility in a political campaign.