Heck's Stolen Valor Act Passes House

May 20, 2013 Issues: Defense and National Security, Veterans

Bill protects sanctity of military awards

Heck calls on Senate to take up bill

WASHINGTON - As the nation prepares to observe Memorial Day, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03) that would make it a crime to knowingly benefit from false statements about receiving certain military awards. The bill, H.R. 258, the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, passed the House by an overwhelming vote of 390 to 3. Rep. Heck introduced the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 in January and at the time of its consideration on the floor the bill boasted 124 bipartisan co-sponsors.  Senator Dean Heller has introduced the Senate companion bill (S. 210) which currently has 21 bipartisan co-sponsors.

"It is fitting for the House to pass this bill a few days prior to Memorial Day," Rep. Heck said. "The awards, and the men and women who have earned them, in some cases posthumously, are worthy of the utmost respect and sanctity. Benefitting from lying about receiving one of these awards is an affront to all who have worn the uniform and especially to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I hope that the Senate will follow the lead of this overwhelming bipartisan vote and pass the Stolen Valor Act."

Congressman Heck spoke on the House floor to urge his colleagues to support the legislation prior to the vote. Click the image below to see the video.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 made it a crime to lie about military service and awards, but was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 28, 2012.

Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, Rep. Heck's legislation would be constitutional because it focuses on those who seek to benefit from misrepresentations of military service and awards.

Rep. Heck's more narrowly-focused bill states, "whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both." The bill covers issues ranging from lying to receive veteran or health care benefits to obtaining a government contract or getting a job reserved for a veteran.

The Stolen Valor Act of 2012 passed the House 410-3 in September of 2012.

The issue of re-working the 2006 version of the Stolen Valor Act with a narrower, constitutionally-sound bill was first brought to Rep. Heck's attention during a meeting of his Veterans Advisory Panel. The panel is a group of local veterans that keep Rep. Heck informed on issues affecting local veterans in southern Nevada.

H.R. 258 enjoys broad bipartisan support with 124 cosponsors and is supported by numerous veterans service organizations including: the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Association of the US Navy, the Fleet Reserve Association, the National Association for Uniformed Services, the National Guard Association of the United States, the Association of the United States Army, the Military Officers Association of America, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and AMVETS.

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