The Supreme Court and the Valor Act

Three guys are downing beers at a local tavern.  One guy says:  “I’m a Marine and I served on Iwo Jima.  I helped raise that flag you see in all the pictures.  Those guys they took the picture of were just actors…..I was one of four guys that actually did it!”  Another guys says:  “Hey, I was on the Arizona when it went down on December 7th.  I shot down three Jap planes before we sunk!”  The third guy says: “Yeah, well I was with Patton at Kaserine Pass.  We blew up 10 of our own tanks just so the Germans couldn’t capture them!”  Ain’t it great that  all three have the Congressional Medal of Honor?  Or do they?

War Stories are like that.  Even Oliver North came up with a program called “War Stories” for the Fox Channel.  Supposedly, every event depicted or reported on that program was so called military gospel.  Was everything reported exactly?  Many of us will never know for sure, but just take it on the surface that Marine Corps Colonel Oliver North would not lead us astray with the facts.  Just because something is reported; doesn’t necessarily mean it is true however…and that goes for stories that are supposedly vetted by the appropriate authorities, the actual principals or even live witness news events as they happen.  The JFK Assassination…being a perfect example!

When anyone joins a Veterans organization, they are usually required to bring in a copy of your DD-214 or so called Separation papers.  The American Legion is a prime example of this.  The DD-214 states alot of good information including your service number, dates of service, MOS (Mlitary Occupational Specialty) as well as any awards or training you may have had during your  service to the United States.  As the years go by, the drinks and stories may become many or blurred.  American Legion Post 291 has had more than a few events several years ago, in which some members wanted other members to believe that their participation in the military service included everything from a unreceived Purple Heart to the Congressional Medal of Honor.  In most of these cases, they were outright lies by the protaganist, with absolutely no evidence in fact.  Was this simply a bar-room lie or Criminal?

A few years ago, Veteran Service Organizations lobbied Congress to pass the so-called Valor Act.  The law states simply that citizen or soldier shall not misrepresent their military awards.  They will not wear these medals, even at retro-military events unless they had in fact received these medals and could document the facts.   There was a variety of reasons why the various Veteran Organizations lobbied for this act:  They did not want the deeds of real heroes to be diminished by having others misrepresent their service solely for free drinks, complimentary State License Plates and many, many other freebies dedicated to those who have served with nobel regard for the country and their fellow service folk.

A few thoughts to consider, as the Supreme Court broaches the arguments in this case; of someone who lied and misrepresented his service history in order to get a better job, be included in free events and to run for office stating untruths regarding his service and history.  We would say directly:  This is fraud, plain and simple.  There was no loss of memory, no uncertainty in where the person served, what rank was held or what awards were received.  The defense is now arguing that it was simply a bar-room lie.  It wasn’t meant to deceive anyone!  We say:  If you use these misrepresentaions for advantage, in any regard….you should be able to be sued in Civil Court and to be punished under Criminal Federal Law for impersonating a person of privilege!

Back to the three guys talking in the bar at the beginning of this article:  Bar room lies, Golf Stories, Fish Stories, Hunting Stories, Skiing Stories, Surf Stories, or explaning to your wife/partner why you didn’t come home last night………are all ethical broaches of character, that cannot be condoned – but also, cannot be prosecuted in a Court of Law.  Going out of your way however, to publicize your Military Record to seek advantage in Employment or for Public Complimentary inclusion – should be strictly prohibited.  We need to honor the true deeds and glories that real soldiers accomplish in the course of their duty.  Many of the so-called authentic Awards when seriously investigated are sometimes at risk of being determined as true.  The famous case of Arizona Cardinal  Pat Tillman being a very good example of the challenging veracity contained in Government reports.  But, with those cases aside, it is certainly not necessary to have to add anyone that has never  served their country fraudulently saying that they have received great rank and award,  purely for personal gain.  Not at least – without a litany per incident of serious penalties by both Criminal and Civil Court proceedings!  We do not need to expand the opportunities for gray areas in society.  We long to hope for as much clarity as we can find without obfuscation.

Veteran Awards should be sacrosanct.  You either got them or you didn’t.  If you alter your DD-214, that should be considered a Federal Crime, as it is for altering any Federal Document in the attempt to profit socially or professionally.  It is  base and fraudulent, a moral breech and we hope that the Supreme Court will uphold the true spirit of the Valor Act.

About Ron & Anna Winship

Independent News Producers/Writers and Directors for Parker-Longbow Productions. Independent Programming which includes a broad variety of Political, Entertainment and Professional Personalities. Cutting Edge - a talk the flagship of over 30 URL websites developed or under development. The Winships have been blogging for the Orange Juice since back when nickels had buffalos on them, and men wore onions attached to their belts, because it was the fashion back then.