U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today expressed optimism that Congress will enact the Stolen Valor Act, legislation he is cosponsoring that would establish penalties for those who profit from false military service claims.
The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 (S.210) would set criminal penalties--including fines and jail time--for those who lie about their military service or service-related honors in order to gain profit or benefits. Cochran cosponsored a similar bill last year. Unfortunately, that measure died with the end of the 112th Congress.
"This legislation would help protect the sanctity of the sacrifices made by the men and women of our Armed Forces. Their service should not be diminished by those who profit from false claims about their military service," said Cochran, who is a U.S. Navy veteran.
"The Congress came up short last year, but I am optimistic that the Senate and House will pass this legislation," he said.
S.210 would set punishments ranging from a fine to a year in prison for those convicted of profiting from fraudulent military service claims. Introduced by Senator Dean Heller (R-Nev.), the legislation is written to avoid the freedom of speech issues outlined in the June 28, 2012, U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Alvarez. That ruling overturned a 2005 law that made it illegal to simply lie about military service, which the Court determined violated the First Amendment right to free speech.
This bipartisan bill, which currently has 19 cosponsors, is pending before the Senate Judiciary Committee. A companion bill, HR.258, has been introduced in the House of Representatives.