Stolen Valor Act Of 2012, Stolen Valor Law Rebooted In The 2013 Defense Authorization Act

In a victory for those that actually earn the right to wear awards and to claim affiliation with the greatest military on earth, the newest version of the Stolen Valor act has been added to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act(NDAA).

As explained by our friend Mary at POWnetwork:

The SV Act attached to the Defense Authorization Act of 2013 which passed the Senate this week. (This is separate from Senate passage of the Webb Bill earlier.) The SV Act is incorporated in the Senate version of the Act now on its way to the house. Below is text from that section:




This division may be cited as the ‘Stolen Valor Act of 2012’.


Congress find the following:

(1) Because of the great respect in which military service and military awards are rightfully held by the public, false claims of receiving such medals or serving in the military are especially likely to be harmful and material to employers, voters in deciding to whom paid elective positions should be entrusted, and in the award of contracts.

(2) Military service and military awards are held in such great respect that public and private decisions are correctly influenced by claims of heroism.

(3) False claims of military service or military heroism are an especially noxious means of obtaining something of value because they are particularly likely to cause tangible harm to victims of fraud.

(4) False claims of military service or the receipt of military awards, if believed, are especially likely to dispose people favorably toward the speaker.

(5) False claims of military service or the receipt of military awards are particularly likely to be material and cause people to part with money or property. Even if such claims are unsuccessful in bringing about this result, they still constitute attempted fraud.

(6) False claims of military service or the receipt of military awards that are made to secure appointment to the board of an organization are likely to cause harm to such organization through their obtaining the services of an individual who does not bring to that organization what he or she claims, and whose falsehood, if discovered, would cause the organization’s donors concern that the organization’s board might not manage money honestly.

(7) The easily verifiable nature of false claims regarding military service or the receipt of military awards, the relative infrequency of such claims, and the fact that false claims of having served in the military or received such awards are rightfully condemned across the political spectrum, it is especially likely that any law prohibiting such false claims would not be enforced selectively.

(8) Congress may make criminal the false claim of military service or the receipt of military awards based on its powers under article I, section 8, clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States, to raise and support armies, and article I, section 8, clause 18 of the Constitution of the United States, to enact necessary and proper measures to carry into execution that power.


Section 704 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:

‘Sec. 704. Military medals or decorations

‘(a) In General- 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, imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both.

‘(b) False Claims to the Receipt of Military Decorations, Medals, or Ribbons and False Claims Relating to Military Service in Order to Secure a Tangible Benefit or Personal Gain-

‘(1) IN GENERAL- Whoever, with the intent of securing a tangible benefit or personal gain, knowingly, falsely, and materially represents himself or herself through any written or oral communication (including a resume) to have served in the Armed Forces of the United States or to have been awarded any decoration, medal, ribbon, or other device authorized by Congress or pursuant to Federal law for the Armed Forces of the United States, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned for not more than 6 months, or both.

‘(2) TANGIBLE BENEFIT OR PERSONAL GAIN- For purposes of this subsection, the term ‘tangible benefit or personal gain’ includes–

‘(A) a benefit relating to military service provided by the Federal Government or a State or local government;

‘(B) public or private employment;

‘(C) financial remuneration;

‘(D) an effect on the outcome of a criminal or civil court proceeding;

‘(E) election of the speaker to paying office; and

‘(F) appointment to a board or leadership position of a non-profit organization.

‘(c) Definition- In this section, the term ‘Armed Forces of the United States’ means the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, including the reserve components named in section 10101 of title 10.’.


If any provision of this division, any amendment made by this division, or the application of such provision or amendment to any person or circumstance is held to be unconstitutional, the remainder of the provisions of this division, the amendments made by this division, and the application of such provisions or amendments to any person or circumstance shall not be affected.

Doug Sterner also responded to the Senates passage of this act in the authorization act:

In the latest twist, the Senate attached the Stolen Valor Act of 2012 — sponsored by decorated Vietnam War veteran Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. — as an amendment to the 2013 Defense Authorization Bill that passed last week.

Montana Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester co-sponsored the legislation.


Webb’s bill passed the Senate a couple of weeks ago and makes it a federal crime to make a false claim about having served in the military or having received a military decoration if the object of the lie is personal gain. Those caught lying for personal gain would face fines of up to $10,000 and up to six months in prison.


In September the House passed the Stolen Valor Act of 2011, sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., that makes it a crime to knowingly benefit from lies about receiving military awards.


Heck’s bill makes a similar change to the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 — which was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on the grounds it infringed upon free speech rights — in that it narrowly focuses on those who seek to benefit from their misrepresentations of receiving military awards, and not the lie itself.


The House version imposes a tougher penalty for violators, with up to one year in prison.


Doug Sterner, a former Kalispell resident whose wife wrote the policy analysis that became the original Stolen Valor Act, said he’s pleased with Congress’ efforts to keep the issue at the forefront.


“It is a very good thing,” Sterner said about the amendment Friday. “It eliminates the need to amend the House Bill [Heck’s] or the Senate Bill [Webb’s] to make the two compatible. If the House passes the Defense Authorization Bill … it becomes law upon signing of the act by the president.”

Sterner called the amendment a “very smart move by the Senate.


So basically what this says is once the Defense Act is signed, the new SV Act will go into effect. Which will also make it illegal to produce medals and/or certificates without authorization.

So posers and embellishers be warned, your time is limited.


What are your thoughts?
4 comments on “Stolen Valor Act Of 2012, Stolen Valor Law Rebooted In The 2013 Defense Authorization Act
  1. Finally! Is it possible the house and the senate are on the same page regarding those who steal what is not rightfully theirs? May the Defense Act be signed ASAP!

  2. I thought the Supreme Court’s decision on SV ’06, while a thorn in the side, made sense. And before you go jumping around, I’m an Afghan/Iraq vet, folks… just calling it like I see it. This kind of legislation, while fantastic in intent, could lead to some otherwise reckless violations of the First Amendment. I like how the latest revision specifies that anyone who lies for personal gain violates federal law, but it still doesn’t nip the base issue in the bud: we’ve still got a TON of ass clowns out there who think it’s cool to throw on a uniform and pretend to be somebody special.

    Also, under the proposed amendment to Section 704(a), to whom exactly does “except when authorized under regulations made pursuant to law…” refer? Does this mean that Medals of America or Vets PX are authorized to fabricate medals for purchase?

    And does it also mean that Joe Blow off the street isn’t able to purchase a medal he never earned? Because that’s just wrong. If he’s purchasing it to wear on dress blues he never earned, etc., he should have his nuts smashed, but if he likes collecting military medals and doesn’t parade them around as decorations he’s earned, where’s the harm in that?

    Behold: the trouble with regulation.

    • Jack, I get where you are coming from. No doubt we are walking a very fine line here. I think the important thing is that we set our emotions to the side and deal with the issue like we would anything else.

      I think there is enough repetitive language about personal gain in there to protect the guy who just likes to collect medals the same way some people like to collect patches.

      The real issue is, and always has been, those individuals who represent themselves as more than they are for personal gain. I certainly don’t like those ass-clowns who claim to be some SF Ranger Marine Force Recon that trains Navy Seals and has three CMH’s in order to get a date but be realistic: guys have been lying to get laid since the beginning of time. Now, if they are dumb enough to wear a uniform then they deserve whatever they get.

      What truly angers me is the fakers who steal benefits from Real Vets!! Social Security, VA, Charities, whatever. Those guys need the maximum punishment we can give because they are STEALING from our brothers and sisters! That cannot be a First Amendment protected action, it HAS to be treated as the fraud that it is. Hopefully the SV Act of 2012 will accomplish exactly that.

  3. I think that a simple “including, but nt limited to” in front of the three catgories of the other two bill accomplishes the same thing, I was in the law for 17 years and when you start namimg all the infractions you are bound to miss one. With the addition of the above phrase you could explore any of the above named offenses

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