Posted on Oct 14, 2015
SGT Infantryman (Airborne)
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From "This Ain't Hell"
What is “Stolen Valor”?
Jonn Lilyea | October 14, 2015

Lately, I’ve found myself explaining to folks the difference between the Stolen Valor Act and the thing that we call “stolen valor”. The phrase actually comes from BG “Jug” Burkett who wrote the book “Stolen Valor” which was published in the 90s and told the story about folks who had appropriated the valor of the Vietnam generation of warriors. In 2005, President Bush signed the Stolen Valor Act which made lying about one’s military experience a crime.

In 2012, the Supreme Court invalidated that federal law because, they said, it violated Americans’ freedom of speech. The following year, Congress passed, and the President signed a new law, called the Stolen Valor Act of 2013 (Pub.L. 113–12; H.R. 258) that made lying about your military experience illegal if you told that lie for some sort of “tangible benefit” if your lies concern certain badges and medals. The list of medals and badges reads like this; a Medal of Honor (Army, Navy, Air Force), a Distinguished Service Cross, a Navy Cross, an Air Force Cross, a Silver Star, a Purple Heart, a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, a Combat Action Badge, a Combat Medical Badge, a Combat Action Ribbon, a Combat Action Medal, or any replacement or duplicate medal for such medal as authorized by law. The Stolen Valor Act of 2013 modified Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 704.

Generally, we, in the Stolen Valor community, aren’t concerned with the federal law. TAH and our partners have very little influence with federal prosecutors who are usually reluctant to pursue Stolen Valor Act charges against a criminal. What we are concerned about is the truth.

The Supreme Court essentially gave us a warrant to hunt down these valor thieves and expose them to the public. Justice Kennedy wrote in US v. Alvarez that “Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication.” That means that we don’t need the government regulations or law enforcement to expose liars to the light of truth.

We look at things that aren’t necessarily regulated by the US Code – things like the POW Medal, for example.

Many of the conversations I have on social media are with people who confuse the Stolen Valor Act with BG Burkett’s phrase. In our community, there doesn’t have to be a “tangible benefit” to be Stolen Valor. That’s for lawyers to parse. All we’re interested in is the truth. In US v. Alvarez, Justice Kennedy wrote;

The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true. This is the ordinary course in a free society. The response to the unreasoned is the rational; to the uninformed, the enlightened; to the straight-out lie, the simple truth.

Society has the right and civic duty to engage in open, dynamic, rational discourse.

The court of public opinion doesn’t expect us to prove a “tangible benefit” for valor to be stolen. We’re only interested in preserving history and the valor of those who wrote those chapters of history in blood. The lie makes it stolen valor, not the intentions or motivations, legality or illegality. Most of the people who commit Stolen Valor are within their legal rights to do so – and so are we within our legal rights to expose them as common liars.

18 U.S. Code § 704 - Military medals or decorations

Whoever knowingly purchases, attempts to purchase, solicits for purchase, mails, ships, imports, exports, produces blank certificates of receipt for, manufactures, sells, attempts to sell, advertises for sale, trades, barters, or exchanges for anything of value any decoration or medal authorized by Congress for the armed forces of the United States, or any of the service medals or badges awarded to the members of such forces, or the ribbon, button, or rosette of any such badge, decoration or medal, or any colorable imitation thereof, except when authorized under regulations made pursuant to law, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.
(b)Fraudulent Representations About Receipt of Military Decorations or Medals.—
Whoever, with intent to obtain money, property, or other tangible benefit, fraudulently holds oneself out to be a recipient of a decoration or medal described in subsection (c)(2) or (d) shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
(c) Enhanced Penalty for Offenses Involving Congressional Medal of Honor.—
(1)In general.—
If a decoration or medal involved in an offense under subsection (a) is a Congressional Medal of Honor, in lieu of the punishment provided in that subsection, the offender shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
(2)Congressional medal of honor defined.—In this subsection, the term “Congressional Medal of Honor” means—
(A) a medal of honor awarded under section 491 of title 14;section 3741, 6241, or 8741 of title 10or
(B) a duplicate medal of honor issued under section 504 of title 14; orsection 3754, 6256, or 8754 of title 10or
(C) a replacement of a medal of honor provided under section 501 of title 14.section 3747, 6253, or 8747 of title 10or
(d) Enhanced Penalty for Offenses Involving Certain Other Medals.—
(1)In general.—
If a decoration or medal involved in an offense described in subsection (a) is a distinguished-service cross awarded under section 3742 of title 10, a Navy cross awarded under section 6242 of title 10, an Air Force cross awarded under section 8742 of section [1] 10, a silver star awarded under section 3746, 6244, or 8746 of title 10, a Purple Heart awarded under section 1129 of title 10 10, a silver star awarded undersection 3746, 6244, or 8746 of title 10, a Purple Heart awarded under
(2)Combat badge defined.—
In this subsection, the term “combat badge” means a Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Combat Action Badge, Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Ribbon, or Combat Action Medal.
(June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 732; May 24, 1949, ch. 139, § 16, 63 Stat. 92; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXII, § 320109, title XXXIII, § 330016(1)(E), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2113, 2146; Pub. L. 103–442, Nov. 2, 1994, 108 Stat. 4630; Pub. L. 104–294, title VI, § 604(b)(16), Oct. 11, 1996, 110 Stat. 3507; Pub. L. 107–107, div. A, title V, § 553(e), Dec. 28, 2001, 115 Stat. 1117; Pub. L. 109–437, § 3, Dec. 20, 2006, 120 Stat. 3266; Pub. L. 113–12, § 2, June 3, 2013, 127 Stat. 448.)
Posted in these groups: 524395_331088503647420_191451722_n Stolen ValorBush_george_w_promopic George W. Bush6840780_xl Law
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Responses: 8
SGT Jinger Jarrett
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You can read my post on it. I have been repeatedly vetted for Stolen Valor by people who have absolutely no proof of their groundless accusations and did it out of hate and spite. I'm sick of it. If I thought someone wasn't a veteran, I would send an SF 180 to St. Louis and vett them properly before making groundless accusations and trying to destroy their lives with lies. If I have major trust issues in the veterans' community, and I definitely do, this is why. I have been harassed, threatened, stalked, bullied, and these people have tried to destroy my life, my business, push me to suicide and called the Secret Service on me. I have never ever been given a reason why. Not ever. They're never man enough to come to me and talk to me. I'm sick of it. No honorably discharged veteran ever deserves to suffer the hell I have been through. Not only do I deserve an explanation, they definitely owe me an apology.

https://www.rallypoint.com/shared-links/stolen-valor--7?urlhash=1568274
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SGT Jinger Jarrett
SGT Jinger Jarrett
3 y
If they really wanted to prove me guilty of Stolen Valor, they would have requested my records from St. Louis. They didn't. They publicly humiliated me, stole my identity, accused me of treason and called the Secret Service on me. They also put up pages on Facebook trying to destroy my business, reputation and push me to suicide. Hardly the acts of those who really care about Stolen Valor. Sadly, Stolen Valor is being used to destroy veterans, not catch frauds. Those who do this kind of stuff don't even know the law. I've cleaned up the mess. Sadly, I didn't get my reputation back because it was destroyed. It's rendered me useless in the veterans' community and unable to help veterans. That's OK. I've spent my whole life taking care of others and never getting the things I want. It's time for a change. Thank you for your comments.
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LTC Stephen F.
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Thanks SGT (Join to see) for providing the background of Stolen Valor Act. I didn't realize it was not that long ago that it was signed and that President George W. Bush signed the the Stolen Valor Act in 2005. I am glad that after SCOTUS invalidated the act, Congress passes anew law that passed SCOTUS scrutiny.
Thank you for providing the details of what can be done to those who attempt to steal valor.
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1stSgt Eugene Harless
1stSgt Eugene Harless
4 y
The problem with the new law is that it is vague on what a "tangible benefit" is. Unless someone falsifies documents to get something from the Government (VA Benefits, DMV discounts, Etc) they aren't prosecuted. Even then they aren't charged with Stolen Valor but with fraud, which has higher fines and longer sentences. Some states are enacting their own SV laws, which closely mirror the federal statute, and have a higher chance of enforcement. While I think it's unrealistic to think that dirtbags who throw on a surplus uniform and get a free meal at Applebees will ever do time I would like to see those who bilk charities out of hundreds of dollars in cash, hunting gear, trips etc get charged.
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MAJ Hospitalist Physician Assistant (Pa)
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Well written! Thank you.
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