Today, on the tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced that he was cosponsoring two pieces of legislation aimed at supporting veterans. The first is a bill to protect the Purple Heart and Bronze Star and was introduced by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.). The second, the Stolen Valor Act, introduced by Sens. Tester and Heller, would establish additional federal penalties for those who fraudulently claim that they earned military medals or distinctions in order to gain benefits.
"Whether they served in Vietnam or the first Gulf War, Iraq or Afghanistan, or anywhere around the world, our veterans deserve the highest honor, respect and protection," said Sen. Carper. "They have sacrificed and put themselves in harm's way for our country, and we in turn have a responsibility to take care of them when they return home. As a veteran, I know the burdens many vets carry -- from traumatic injuries to an inability to find long-term employment. Knowing how difficult these struggles can be makes the idea of scamming or otherwise abusing the commendations and distinctions we give our returning heroes even more disgusting. The least we can do for our men and women coming home from battlefields across the globe is to protect their honor and recognize their valor. These bills help do just that. I'm proud to support them, and I'm even prouder of the bravery and selfless service of the millions of veterans who call our country home."
The first bill, S.470, would prohibit the Defense Department from ranking the newly announced Distinguished Warfare Medal equal to or higher than the Purple Heart. While this legislation supports the Defense Department's decision to authorize a new decoration as a way to recognize high tech warriors, such as drone pilots and cyber warriors, it would ensure that the new medal is not elevated above those earned in direct combat.
The Stolen Valor Act would make it a federal misdemeanor for someone to fraudulently claim that they had earned military medals, awards or decorations in order to gain money, property or other tangible benefits. An individual convicted under this legislation would face penalties of up to one year in prison and fines.