Three Cheers for Liberty and Valor

The Defense Department intends to establish a data base to validate veterans’ alleged claims of decorations. “We are exploring options to stand up a data base of valor awards and medals,” said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on July 10. “We would obviously hope to go as far back as possible, but we also want there to be integrity in the data,” he added, explaining that the department is still deciding what decorations to include. Little said Erin Conaton, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, is leading this effort, which came about after last month’s Supreme Court ruling that struck down the Stolen Valor Act, a law criminalizing false claims of decoration, on Constitutional free-speech grounds. The court, instead, encouraged DOD to combat the problem by creating a publicly accessible data base that potential employers or concerned citizens could check for themselves. Lawmakers also are proposing a revised Stolen Valor Act that would penalize those who try to benefit from making false claims. (Little-Kirby transcript)