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House bill takes aim at 'stolen' acts of valor
CSU student's paper inspires legislation

By John C. Ensslin, Rocky Mountain News
July 21, 2005

A paper written by a student at Colorado State University at Pueblo has inspired federal legislation to tighten a loophole for people fraudulently wearing military awards.

U.S. Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., this week introduced a bill - dubbed the Stolen Valor Act - that would make it a federal crime to falsely claim to be a recipient of the Medal of Honor and other top military awards.

The impetus for the bill came from a policy analysis paper that Pamla Sterner wrote for a political science class at CSU-Pueblo last fall.

"Pamla Sterner's work is what brought this issue to our attention," said Nayyera Haq, a spokeswoman for Salazar.

That's pretty heady stuff for a 48-year-old who describes herself as having once been a reluctant college student. In her 22-page paper, Sterner reported the number of fake Medal of Honor recipients outnumber the 120 living recipients of the nation's highest military honor.

"And it's not just old soldiers sitting around telling war stories," Sterner said. "Most of the people who commit this fraud will do other (criminal) things."

Sterner credits her husband, Doug, a Vietnam veteran, with raising her awareness of medal fraud.

Several years ago, Doug Sterner created a Web site devoted to honoring the legitimate recipients of the Medal of Honor as well as the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy Cross and the Air Force Cross.

The site - while not official - has become a frequently consulted database. Sterner said he fields about 10 inquiries a month that lead to someone being exposed as a phony.

Existing federal law prohibits people from fraudulently wearing, manufacturing or selling the medals.

But it doesn't stop them from identifying themselves as medal recipients, claiming it on their résumé or hanging fake medals on their walls, Pamla Sterner said.

Tom Cottone, a New Jersey-based FBI agent who specializes in prosecuting false medal cases, said he has helped prosecute about 100 Medal of Honor impostors since 1996.

Cottone caught one at his own church in April 2004 while attending a funeral for a Marine killed in Iraq.

He noticed a man dressed as a Marine Corps captain with several medals. Cottone became suspicious when the man failed to snap to attention when Taps was played. The man later confessed to never having served in the military and was prosecuted.

Cottone said he knows several authentic Medal of Honor winners. They are easy to tell apart from the impostors, he said.

"These are the most humble guys you will ever meet," he said of the real recipients. "These impostors are the opposite. They will talk to anyone who will listen."

Copyright 2005, Rocky Mountain News. All Rights Reserved.

 

July 15, 2005

Congressman John Salazar
134 West B Street
Pueblo , CO   81003

 Dear Congressman Salazar,

            It is with enthusiasm and gratitude that I write to thank you for supporting the introduction of the Stolen Valor legislation to protect the honor and integrity of military awards recipients.

            As President of Colorado State University Pueblo , I feel tremendous pride knowing that the legislation was based in part on the policy analysis of Pamla Sterner, a senior political science student.  As a non-traditional student, she represents a significant segment of our student body, who return to school later in life in order to achieve their dreams, undaunted by the many family and professional responsibilities that must be balanced in order to accomplish their goals.

            As a regional comprehensive university that caters to the educational, social, and cultural needs of Southern Colorado, CSU-Pueblo strives to provide programs and activities that contribute to bettering the lives of Colorado citizens.  In that way, our work mirrors what you try to accomplish as a Congressman.

            I thank you in advance for referencing the connection of this legislation to CSU-Pueblo and to the efforts of Pamla Sterner.  She is a testament to the caliber of graduates we produce and to the quality of educational experiences we attempt to provide for each and every one of our students.

            If I can be of any assistance as you work to get this legislation passed, do not hesitate to call me at (719) 549-2306.  With collaborative projects such as this, we can build a better Colorado .

            Sincerely,

            Ronald L. Applbaum
           
President


Colorado Congressman John Salazar, Colorado State Senator Abel Tapia and Medal of Honor recipient Peter Lemon, met recently to discuss the introduction of the Stolen Valor Bill of 2005, which Salazar introduced yesterday to Congress. The foundation of the bill was spelled out in a policy analysis paper by CSU-Pueblo student Pamla Sterner.
(High Resolution Image of Above Photo)

DOWNLOAD THE COMPLETE POLICY ANALYSIS PAPER AS A WORD DOCUMENT.

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James Fields (Left) regaled the audience in Chillicothe, MO, on veterans day with tales of his heroism that earned him a Navy Cross for heroism in Vietnam while serving under Lt. Col. Oliver North. The same day in St. Louis, Michael Wielbacher showed up for the Marine Corps Birthday Ball wearing the Navy Cross and Distinguished Service Medal, along with a two Silver Stars with "V", four Bronze, and more. Both were bogus heroes. Wielbacher is prosecutable but Fields is NOT (he was wearing a Navy Cross PIN, not the Medal. Both are exposed in this excellent report from the St. Louis Fox Affiliate.

Watch the Video Report of these "American Heroes"

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Note: While journalists do not endorse legislation in order to maintain impartiality, we are pleased to share with you the following congratulatory remarks by a leader in American news broadcasting: 

"I congratulate Congressman Salazar for getting on this case and I am with him all the way." 
Bob Schieffer, CBS Evening News 

Stolen Valor Act of 2005
H.R. 3352 & S. 1998

.

News

Read/Download the Policy Analysis Paper that is the basis for this legislation.

Policy Analysis
Webpage

Policy Analysis
WORD Doc.

Policy Analysis
WORD PDF

Contact Congressman Salazar

John T. Salazar (CO-3) SPONSOR
111 Members of Congress Co-Sponsoring This Bill in the House
(Sorted By State & District)

(AL-5) Robert Bud Cramer 
(AR-1) Marion Berry  
(AR-4) Mike Ross 
(AZ-7) Raul Grijalva  
(CA-1) Mike Thompson 
(CA-8) Nancy Pelosi
(CA-15 Mike Honda 
(CA-18) Dennis Cardoza 
(CA-20) Jim Costa 
(CA-29) Adam Schiff 
(CA-33) Diane Watson 
(CA-38) Grace Napolitano 
(CA-43) Joe Baca 
(CA-51) Bob Filner 
(CO-2) Mark Udall 
(
FL-2) Allen Boyd  
(FL-17) Kendrick Meek 
(FL-23) Alcee Hastings  
(GA-3) Jim Marshall  
(GA-12) John Barrow  
(GU)  Madeleine Bordallo
((HI-2) Ed Case  
(IA-3) Leonard Boswell 
(IL-4) Luis Gurierrez  
(IL-5) Rahm Emanuel 
(IN-7) Julia Carson  
(KS-3) Dennis Moore  
.(KY-6) Ben Chandler  
(LA-3) Charlie Melancon
(MD-4) Albert Wynn
(MD-5) Steny Hoyer  
(ME-1) Thomas Allen 
(ME-2) Michael Michaud
(MI-5) Dale Kildee
(MI-14) John Conyers
(MN-7) Colin Peterson  
(MS-4) Gene Taylor  
(NC-7) Mike McIntyre  
(ND) Earl Pomeroy  
(NJ-9) Steven Rothman
(
NJ-13) Robert Mendez (NM-3) Tom Udall  
(NV-1) Shelly Berkley
(NY-2) Steve Israel  
(NY-4) Carolyn McCarthy 
(NY-12 )Nydia Velazquez  
(NY-16) Jose Serrano  
(NY-22) Maurice Hinchey
(OH-6) Ted Strickland  
(OH-13) Sherrod Brown  
(OH-17) Tim Ryan  
(OK-2) Dan Boren  
(OR-5) Darlene Hooley  
(PA-17) Tim Holden  
(SD) Stephanie Herseth  
(TN-4) Lincoln Davis  
(TN-5) Jim Cooper  
(TN-6) Bart Gordon 
(TN-8) John Tanner  
(TN-9) Harold Ford  
(TX-15) Ruben Hinojosa  
(TX-16) Silvestre Reyes  
(TX-20) Charles Gonzalez
 (TX-25) Lloyd Doggett  
(TX-27) Solomon Ortiz  
(TX-28) Henry Cuellar  
(TX-29) Gene Green  
(TX-30) Eddie B. Johnson
(UT-3) Jim Matheson  
(WA-3) Brian Baird  
(WA-7) Jim McDermott
(WA-9) Adam Smith  
(WV-3) Nick Rahall  
.
NOTE: ALL SIX Representatives from Kentucky, including members of BOTH parties, have signed on as co-sponsors for this bill. Way to go KENTUCKY.


(AL-6) Spencer Bachus
(AZ-1) Rick Renzi
(CA-41) Jerry Lewis
(CA-44) Ken Calvert
(CO-4) Marilyn Musgrave
(CO-6) Tom Tancredo  
CO-7) Bob Beauprez
(CT-2) Rob Simmons
(IL-16) Donald Manzullo
(IN-4) Steve Buyer
(IN-5) Dan Burton
(IN-8) John Hostettler
(KY-1) Ed Whitfield 
(KY-2) Ron Lewis  
(KY3) Anne Northup  
(KY-4) Geoff Davis  
(KY-5) Harold Rogers  
(LA-5) Rodney Alexander
(MI-8) Mike Rogers
(MI-11) Thaddeus McCotter
(MN-2) John Kline  
(MO-6) Sam Graves
(NC-8) Robin Hayes
(NE-1) Jeff Fortenberry
(NE-2) Lee Terry
(NJ-4) Christopher Smith
(NJ-5) Scott Garrett
(NJ-7) Mike Ferguson
(NY-13) Vito Fossella
NY-19) Sue Kelly
(NY-24) Sherwood Boehlert
(NY-29) John Randy Kuhl  
(PA-3) Phil English  
(TN-3) Zach Wamp
(TX-2) Ted Poe 
(TX-23) Henry Bonilla
(VA-10) Frank Wolf
(WI-8) Mark Green

Kent Conrad (ND) - Sponsor
26 SENATE Co-SPONSORS
S 1998 SENATE VERSION of Stolen Valor:
PASSED SENATE September 7

(AR) Mark Pryor
(AR) Blanche Lincoln
(CO) Ken Salazar 
(CT) Joseph Lieberman
(HI) Daniel Inouye
(NE) Benjamin Nelson  
(NJ) Frank Lautenberg  
(NM) Jeff Bingaman 
(NY) Hillary Clinton
(SD) Tim Johnson  
(WV) John Rockefeller  
(WV) Robert Byrd 

(AK) Ted Stevens
CO) Wayne Allard  
(GA) Johnny Isakson  
(GA) Saxby Chambliss 
(KS) Pat Roberts
(LA) David Vitter  
(MT) Conrad Burns  
(NC) Elizabeth Dole  
(NE) Chuck Hagel
(PA) Arlen Specter
(PA) Rick Santorum  
(SD) John Thune
(WY) Thomas Craig
(WY) Michael Enzi

ENDORSEMENTS

Other Medal of Honor and/or Veteran Related Legislation

H. Res. 297
National Medal of Honor Day

NEW G.I.
Bill of Rights

H. RES. 404
Honoring
Adm. Jim Stockdale

Doug or Pam Sterner may be contacted at: (703) 461-3626 or by Email:  Pam Sterner  -  Doug Sterner

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The P.O.W. Network

 

 

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