Attention: open in a new window. E-mail

Bill Would Make Unearned Medals A Crime

Congressman says Unearned Medals Slap In The Face
May 25th 2006

Read "The Stolen Valor Act of 2005" PDF File 922Kb

WASHINGTON - American veterans on Wednesday called for a law that would make it a crime for people who did not earn military honors to wear the medals.

The cases are growing while soldiers are serving on the front lines. Federal agents were searching for those who falsely claim to be recipients of such honors.

Veterans called for the law, called the Stolen Valor Act, which would make it a crime for someone to wear a military medal to which he or she was not entitled.

"To see a wannabe with all of their legs and all of their limbs wearing a Purple Heart and parading around like they are some kind of a hero, to me, that is about as low as you can get," said Hershel Gober of the Military Order Of The Purple Heart.

The FBI has investigated more than 100 cases of people falsely claiming to have won the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the nation's highest military honor. Fraudulent wearing of that medal is punishable by a year in jail and a stiff fine. That, however, is not the case with other personal valor awards, such as the Purple Heart.

News4 reported that there are only 113 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.

"It's really a slap in the face to our veterans when the true meaning of the medal is dishonored," said Colorado Rep. John Salazar, who is a veteran himself and has sponsored the Stolen Valor Act in the House of Representatives. Veterans said they believe the bill is a good idea.

"I served in the Marine Corps during Vietnam and back then, a lot of guys came home to being spat upon and then, I don't know, maybe eight or 10 years later, all of a sudden, it was fashionable to be a veteran," said Don Smith.

"If you haven't fought, if you haven't earned that Purple Heart, you shouldn't be wearing that Purple Heart," said Karion Williams.