View Full Version : Stolen Valor Act of 2005

26 Oct 07,, 11:16
Old news, but good news:
The Stolen Valor Act of 2005 (http://www.homeofheroes.com/herobill/)

Salazar Introduces “Stolen Valor Act” to Penalize Medal Frauds

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John T. Salazar (CO-3), the only veteran from the Colorado delegation, today announced the introduction of the “Stolen Valor Act”, legislation to penalize distributors of phony medals and those who fraudulently claim to be decorated veterans. Salazar’s legislation would place criminal penalties on those who falsely claim to have risked their lives for our country, restoring honor to those who have truly earned it.

“Medals recognize the best American qualities – courage, honor, and sacrifice,” said Salazar. “These honors are reserved for those who willingly risked their lives for our country. The Medal of Honor is our nation’s highest military honor. And the Purple Heart is only awarded for genuine acts of courage. It is our job to protect the honor and integrity of our veterans, to make sure the memory of their heroism is not tarnished.”

B.G. Burkett’s award winning book “Stolen Valor” first exposed the problem of medals fraud. Current law only allows prosecution of imposters who wear an unearned Medal of Honor on their person. Salazar’s legislation will expand the law to include those who publicly claim to be decorated veterans, allowing the Federal Bureau of Investigation to finally prosecute several high profile cases (see attached profiles.)

“Shame on those who claim credit for acts of courage they did not commit, their lies are criminal” said Salazar. “Medal recipients are often too humble to parade their honors. By letting the phonies continue their masquerade, we diminish the honor of our true heroes. Federal law enforcement agents are willing to go after these frauds, Congress needs to provide the tools necessary to get the job done.”

Salazar’s legislation is the direct result of the efforts of Pam and Doug Sterner of Pueblo and Medal of Honor recipient Peter Lemon of Colorado Springs. The city of Pueblo in Salazar’s congressional district was designated “America’s Home of Heroes” by Congress, because it is home to more Medal of Honor recipients than elsewhere in the country.


Judge Michael O'Brien, Illinois

Illinois District Judge Michael O’Brien displayed two Medals of Honor in a frame on the wall of his courtroom. Everyone in his city believed their judge was not only an honorable man of the judicial profession, but one of America ’s greatest heroes.

O’Brien’s fraud was discovered when he tried to apply for Medal of Honor license plates for his vehicle. Illinois provides valid Medal of Honor recipients with distinctive license plates for their personal vehicles. When Judge O’Brien applied for his Medal of Honor plates for himself, someone at the Department of Motor Vehicles happened to contact a true recipient and learned O’Brien was a fraud.

O’Brien’s lies were subsequently exposed but he avoided prosecution. While it is against the law to manufacture, wear, buy, sell, or trade the Medal of Honor, it is not a criminal offense to possess one or display it on your wall.

“We couldn’t prosecute O’Brien under federal law because he wasn’t actually wearing the Medal, which is illegal for an impostor to do,” explains FBI agent Tom Cottone.

Lawrence Hammer, Florida

Lawrence Hammer claims to be a former Navy Seal who won the Medal of Honor for being shot twice in Vietnam . Not only did he use his claims and falsified records to gain employment and health care, he went on to con $45,000 from a widow he met at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center.

In the words of the widow:

“I am a VA employee at Bay Pines VA Medical Center, Bay Pines. Mr. Hammer was a patient and a CWT worker at this hospital when I met him. I was widowed 3/3/01 and Mike knew about the time I spent taking care of my husband before he died… he took me for over $45,000…

“I have since had contact with a Susan in Savannah who told me he did exactly the same thing to her. He also did this to a woman in South Carolina named Krissy, who had his arrested for domestic violence, she was beaten and choked by this man… he told me and many people here at the VA that he was trained to kill in the Seals and had already killed a man who molested his daughter, but according to his father, he’s never been married or had kids. This man is a predator and I want to see him exposed before any more women are taken in by him.”

Hammer falsified records claiming to be a decorated veteran and used that status to con the government and unsuspecting women – but he cannot be prosecuted because he did not display medals on his person.

Gilbert Velasquez (AZ)

In 2004, a small paper in Arizona ran a two-full-page story of local "hero" Gilbert Velasquez, who claimed to have participated in the “Blackhawk Down” mission and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

The article featured a front-page photo with Velasquez holding multiple awards including TWO Silver Stars, Legion of Merit, Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts. Despite holding the photo of these medals he claims or telling a reporter his DSC was buried with his godfather—and despite gut-wrenching "war stories" of combat, lost buddies, and personal heroics – this man cannot be prosecuted under current law.

26 Oct 07,, 13:16
These people infuriate me beyond words:mad: .In some cases it appears that they're just sad little people looking for adoration and attention,while others use it for monetary gain and fraud.Either way it is incredibly disrespectful and demeaning to the serving members of our armed forces everywhere.

Get this law passed ASAP and start making these a$$clowns pay.Walts deserve to get smacked upside the head and spend some time reflecting on the error of their ways.I have NO,repeat,NO sympathy for any person who impersonates a member of our armed forces.:mad: .

26 Oct 07,, 21:54
Now Shamus, don't you sometimes wish we you had the NKVD tribunals in your country too?

26 Oct 07,, 22:50
I´ve always wondered , how many of these pretenders have been exposed here on WAB . Or tried to come onboard .

26 Oct 07,, 23:21
My Grandpappy (USMC, RIP) told me once "As much as you might not like wearing the military dress uniform, NEVER disrespect it. Let it be a symbol of the sacrifice others went through so that you can wear it in a free land."

I view the medals that some may earn in the same light. Sure, to wear them unauthorized is disrespectful to those who have actually earned them. I also view it as disrespectful to those who DIDN'T earn them & who have respect enough NOT to wear them as well.

What's the term..."abuse by one viewed to hold a position of authority"? I reading another person's suggested punishment for another who committed a similar infraction--it went something like "the person who wore the medals without authorization should be required to scrub EVERY headstone of EVERY interred service member who lies within a Federal cemetary--with a toothbrush. Then they should be required to visit EVERY military medical facility in this country, apologizing to every patient found therein. Then they should be required to visit avery civilian & military airport where our still-living combat veterans return home to--to issue them a similar apology. & then they should be required to go on a speaking tour to every major city in the US--where they will speak to the audience as to why it is WRONG to wear unauthorized awards. & all this should be accomplished on their own funds, for the American taxpayer shouldn't have to foot the bill for their idiocy."

I can see the logic in the above.

27 Oct 07,, 05:25
I´ve always wondered , how many of these pretenders have been exposed here on WAB . Or tried to come onboard .

Probably a few, but being in the military, and in a specialty confer certain knowledges a pretender just could not know. They are usually little things so they are not part of a manual or the popular lexicon.

for example I am mildly dyslexic (anyone notice how my spelling improved since Fire Fox/Google added a spell check?) this caused my know end of problems because the M60A3 Patton was steered with a T bar they you moved to point the base in the direction you wanted to go. Simple enough, but it gave me fits, almost turned one turtle trying to drive it off a rail platform.I am sure every MOS is like that, little things that some one else who was there and did do that can bring up.

27 Oct 07,, 08:06
Pretenders are bad, but not as bad as servicemen who hog claims for acts of valor committed by others.

Those types should have been shot at birth.

27 Oct 07,, 21:51
I really think that they should also prosecute them under military law too. It's what they wanted anyway wasn't it? A nice stay in a military prison would cure them of many of their social ills.

30 Oct 07,, 14:36
We have had our fair share of veteran impostors here too. Every ANZAC Day a few more parasites are uncovered and treated with the contempt they deserve. :mad: :mad:

ANZAC Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ANZAC_Day)

For all servicemen, ex, current and returned, ANZAC day is sacred. We are the country we are today because of the ANZACS
The following was a statement made by ATTATURK, the commander of the Turkish army;

"Those heroes that shed their blood
and lost their lives;
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
who sent their sons from far away countries,
wipe away your tears;
your sons are now lying in our bosom
and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land they have
become our sons as well."

The respect the Turks gave the original ANZACS was nothing short of amazing, and for these parasites to pretend they fought for their country is an absolute disgrace of the highest order. I'm a firm believer of KARMA, Their time will come.

Federal Law here has upped the penalty to $6000 fine, and/or 12 months gaol. I personally believe they should be locked up a far longer time and have a bigger fine.

ANZAC Day here, April 25, is a very special day for all returned, ex-serviceman and those who were killed in action. Parasites like these are usually never heard from again as being shown as a fraud sends them underground.

My Father fought in the Middle East and my Grandfather was at Gallipoly with the light horse. I know a few of Dads mates who came back from the war broken men and shunned by people as being cowards, suffering what is now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Back then it was called "battle fatigue" and the cure was "to suck it up". A remedy that did more harm than good. It was only when the Vietnam Veterans were suffering the same thing and medical science had come a long way since the 40s that it was a recognized mental illness. The battle these men are going through with their demons demands our empathy and understanding. These frauds are riding on the coat tails of the war hero's, a lot who have PTSD

I mentioned empathy, but not Sympathy, there is a huge difference and so many people are giving the wrong message by using the word Sympathy.

To give an analogy, If someone is drowning, by sympathizing with them, they jump in and drown with them, someone who empathizes with them, will through them a rope.

A lot of times, depending on the situation, you find sympathy in the Dictionary between sh1t and syphilis. and that is where these frauds need to be.

They shall grow not old as those who are left grow old'
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn,
At the going down of the sun, and again in the morning,
We will remember them.


Freddie (ex Serviceman)

Melbourne Age
25 April 2002

Crackdown on war impostors

By Phillip Hudson, Political Correspondent

People masquerading as war veterans and those who damage service awards such as medals face fines of up to $6600 or 12 months' jail under Federal Government plans to protect the honour of veterans.

The dramatic increase in penalties was yesterday welcomed by Victorian RSL president Bruce Ruxton as a magnificent decision to deter wannabes. It follows a two-year campaign by Victorian Liberal Bruce Billson.

Mr Billson, who represents the Frankston-based federal seat of Dunkley, said the existing fine of $200 was pitiful. He was pleased with the move to put forward legislation to increase it to $3300 per offence for people wrongly wearing medals or found to be a bogus veteran.

The fine for destroying or defacing an award would rise to $6600 and/or 12 months' jail.

"The service of veterans must not be dishonoured by impostors falsely seeking a place among our highly respected and revered veterans' community," he said. "Such actions are offensive to genuine veterans and the broader community."

Mr Billson said that every Anzac Day veterans in his community told him the "inconsistencies" in medals worn by one or two others in the parade.

"They say for those who have done the real thing, it's easy to pick an impostor because it seems any medal will do for those seeking to make up a service history," he said.

"I'm aware that some in the local Vietnam veterans community have approached known impostors suggesting it would be in everyone's interest to discontinue their fraud."

Victorian RSL chief executive John Deighton said he knew of several examples of suspect claims. "They are living on the glory of others that have done a dangerous job and saying they are heroes, but they are the absolute bottom of the barrel," Mr Deighton said.

He said he worked on a committee alongside a man who claimed to be a major who served in Vietnam. The man led an Australian delegation to Washington but was later "found to be wanting".

"I saw him one Anzac Day and I was going to physically confront him in public," Mr Deighton said. Instead the federal police spoke to the man "and he hasn't been seen since".

He said other examples included a Geelong man wearing a Distinguished Flying Cross medal that he was not entitled to, an RSL sub-branch president in Gippsland wearing medals he did not earn and a sub-branch president in Glenroy who claimed to be a sailor in World War II and the Korean War.

Mr Billson sparked the debate on Anzac Day, 2000 when The Age reported his call for heavy penalties for bogus veterans and an education campaign to stop children incorrectly wearing the medals of dead relatives.

The government has included information in its We Remember education kit for schools that children paying tribute to relatives should wear medals on the right of their chest, not the left.

Opposition veterans affairs spokesman Mark Bishop said he deplored the actions of impostors but questioned whether the new penalties were an over-reaction. "Perhaps these sorts of people who are living a lie are somewhat mentally disturbed, need a degree of sympathy and assistance rather than the imposition of massive penalties," he said.

dave lukins
30 Oct 07,, 17:45
I really think that they should also prosecute them under military law too. It's what they wanted anyway wasn't it? A nice stay in a military prison would cure them of many of their social ills.

Absolutely, my thoughts exactly.."With an attempt to deceive or gain favour" should be made into a criminal offence. I hope the Judge was removed from office:mad:

31 Oct 07,, 08:01
We have had our fair share of veteran impostors here too. Every ANZAC Day a few more parasites are uncovered and treated with the contempt they deserve. :mad: :mad:

Dont it really p1ss you off Doug , it does me , when i have been speaking to the pondlife when they have been trying to B/S me , after about 2 questions ref military life from someone who knows , their lies are exposed , and then i like to make them squirm like the worms they are .:mad:

05 Nov 07,, 10:52
I really think that they should also prosecute them under military law too.
It doesn't matter what they want... the fakers are still civilians and military law shouldn't apply to them. I don't think that they even deserve jail time... a good fine and plenty of community service should teach 'em a lesson.

05 Nov 07,, 18:59
An idea.. Take the individual into custody (blindfold him/her) and have them point at one of the many service insignia's. This is the service that they shall serve for a three year term at half pay mind you. (So long as they pass the physical) If they cant serve then give them a desk/support job at half pay. Then they can repay the very same people they are stealing from. Draft who needs a draft?:biggrin: