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Press Release

June 29, 2012

No. 12-14

Mokie Porter
301-585-4000, Ext. 146

Vietnam Veterans of America Dismayed with Supreme Court Ruling To Overturn Federal Stolen Valor Act

(Washington, D.C.) – "We are disappointed with yesterday's 6-3 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Alvarez, overturning the federal Stolen Valor Act of 2005 and no longer making it a federal misdemeanor to falsely represent oneself as having earned a U.S. medal or military decoration. As veterans who have fought to defend our Constitution, we take great pride in our civil liberties. And while it is a stretch for us to recognize how lying about military awards earned for exploits never performed constitutes an abridgment of speech under the First Amendment, we do acknowledge the ruling of the majority," said VVA President John Rowan.

"Veterans who have been through the chaos of combat can sniff out an imposter. They can tell when someone isn't what he claims to be," Rowan said. Under the Stolen Valor Act of 2005, the plaintiff's false claim of having the Medal of Honor could have earned him a year in a federal penitentiary.

"Social ostracism and public humiliation of those who would take what is not theirs, what was earned with blood and pain, can be every bit as effective as penalties inscribed in black-letter law," said Rowan, noting that the plaintiff in the case heard by the Supreme Court is shunned by most neighbors and has lost his position on the water board on which he had served.

"And so perhaps the penalty for frauds and poseurs–those who claim the mantle of service—those wannabe prisoners of war; those who falsely claim having earned medals for their heroism; those who tell tall tales of having been part of clandestine top-secret missions of which they claim there are no records–does not need to be legislated, rather vetted by those who have served." Rowan said.

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”


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