Military Roll of Valor Act of 2007

From the News Story Archive

September 28, 2007

Salazar to offer vet database bill
Compilation would allow for identifying heroes and thwarting imposters.


Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., will introduce legislation next week to create a federal database containing the names of all military personnel and veterans who have been awarded military decorations authorized by Congress.
The database would allow the public to identify anyone who has been awarded the military's highest decorations, from the Medal of Honor and the military crosses, to the Purple Heart, which is awarded to military personnel wounded in combat.

Salazar is being joined in sponsoring the legislation by Rep. Pat Murphy, D-Pa., and a veteran of the Iraq War. 

The database would be the second part of a legislative effort Salazar started in 2005 with the Stolen Valor Act, which makes it a crime to falsely claim to have been awarded military decorations, particularly the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Cross or the Air Force Cross. Both the Stolen Valor Act, which President Bush signed last December, and the new legislation, called the Military Valor Roll of Honor, originated with Doug and Pam Sterner, a Pueblo couple who began lobbying for the Stolen Valor Act after learning of the number of people who are caught each year pretending to be military heroes and claiming military decorations they were never awarded.

Most recently, Sterner said the Stolen Valor Act has been used to identify imposters who falsely have filed claims for benefits from the Veterans Administration. A week ago, federal prosecutors filed charges against five men in Seattle who allegedly made false claims for benefits from the VA, as well as false claims to military decorations.

Earlier this week, charges were filed against a water board director in Claremont, Calif., who falsely claimed to have received the Medal of Honor.
"We need to get some congressional hearings on this and then the public would recognize the extent of the problem and the benefit of correcting it," Sterner told The Pueblo Chieftain earlier this week.
In announcing the new legislation, Salazar said, "Having a readily accessible and public database will not only give the tools to law enforcement to prosecute fraudulent claims, but will properly recognize those who have been honored with these citations."

Sterner said the comprehensive database would give the public the chance to identify true heroes and thwart imposters. "This will cover all the military decorations authorized by Congress," Sterner said Friday. "If you were awarded a Bronze Star, it'll be there in the database."

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