National Commander Fry Vows to Continue the Fight to Protect Integrity of Military Awards
Lanham, Md., June 28, 2012— AMVETS National Commander Gary L. Fry decried today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the Stolen Valor Act of 2005 as a failure to protect the integrity of military awards and decorations, and to safeguard American veterans from the actual harm caused by military fakers and fraudsters.
In a landmark 6–3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that lies about military awards could not be criminally prosecuted, with Justice Anthony Kennedy writing in the court’s opinion, “[the act] would endorse government authority to compile a list of subjects about which false statements are punishable.” However, Kennedy left open the possibility that new Stolen Valor legislation could be crafted that would prohibit lies about military awards “in less burdensome ways.” Cmdr. Fry seized upon this prospect Thursday, calling for a renewed effort to outlaw misrepresentations of military service.
“AMVETS maintains that Stolen Valor causes real harm to our American veterans, and we will continue to fight to protect the integrity of military awards and decorations,” said Fry. “The shameful lying by Stolen Valor perpetrators demeans the service of our true heroes, and cannot be accepted as protected speech.”
Fry said that while AMVETS and other Stolen Valor advocates refocus their efforts on new legislation, members of the public could continue to support the cause. Specifically, concerned citizens can deter Stolen Valor by reporting military fakes to the media and sharing those stories with www.ReportStolenValor.org and other Stolen Valor watchdog websites.
AMVETS will also continue to advocate on Capitol Hill for a government-operated military awards database to help citizens quickly and accurately verify claims of military service. AMVETS previously supported H.R. 666, The Military Valor Roll of Honor Act, which died in committee during the 111th Congress. The legislation would have stemmed the epidemic of false claims of military valor awards by requiring a publicly accessible database for the top military awards and decorations.
Currently, the most comprehensive, publicly available military awards database is the Military Times Hall of Valor, created and maintained by historian and Stolen Valor researcher Doug Sterner and may be seen here: http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/.
A leader since 1944 in preserving the freedoms secured by America’s armed forces, AMVETS provides support for veterans and the active military in procuring their earned entitlements, as well as community service and legislative reform that enhances the quality of life for this nation’s citizens and veterans alike. AMVETS is one of the largest congressionally-chartered veterans’ service organizations in the United States, and includes members from each branch of the military, including the National Guard and Reserves. To learn more, visit www.amvets.org and www.reportstolenvalor.org.