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Statement from Congressman Holding Following House Judiciary Committee Action on the Stolen Valor Act

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today Congressman George Holding released the following statement following House Judiciary Committee action on H.R. 258, the "Stolen Valor Act":

"I am pleased that the Judiciary Committee favorably reported the Stolen Valor Act today. I thank the gentleman from Nevada, Mr. Heck, for introducing this vital piece of legislation, dedicated to protecting the honor and legacy of our nation's military heroes.

While serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, I prosecuted an individual for false impersonation of a United States Air Force Officer for the purposes of obtaining waived tuition and expenses associated with a college education. This case involved a woman who claimed to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to obtain over $40,000 worth of education benefits. This case and similar cases are disrespectful to those who have honorably earned awards for their military service. The men and women of our Armed Forces make sacrifices every day. These sacrifices extend well beyond the field of battle -- it impacts every aspect of their daily lives. For an individual to falsely impersonate our heroes to achieve personal benefit is immoral and unacceptable. I have joined on as a cosponsor of the Stolen Valor Act to make certain we maintain the integrity of the system we have in place to recognize the service and courage of our active service members and veterans.

It has been a long-standing federal crime to wear and produce fraudulent military decorations without authorization. In June 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the Stolen Valor Act as it was written wrongly criminalized free speech. In short -- although demeaning and offensive to our real military heroes, lying about receiving a Medal of Honor is protected free speech. It clarifies the intent and the necessary knowledge requirement, so that the First Amendment is protected. I believe that this bill reaffirms the intent of the original Stolen Valor Act by ensuring that those who seek personal gain from fraudulent medals are held accountable, while also protecting Constitutional rights. I am proud to support this important bill in honor of our military heroes."

Background: H.R. 258, the "Stolen Valor Act" was introduced by Congressman Joe Heck of Nevada on January 15, 2013. This legislation clarifies current law to criminalize fraudulently claiming to receive certain military decorations with the intention to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefits. The legislation was marked up by the House Judiciary Committee on March 14, 2013 and reported favorably to the House by voice vote.

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