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Pentagon to set up database for military medals

The Pentagon said Tuesday that it would establish a database for military awards and medals so that claims of meritorious service could be verified in the future. 

The decision was announced in a briefing by Pentagon Press Secretary George Little.

“We are exploring options to stand up a database of valor awards and medals,” Little said. “We haven't arrived at a final conclusion yet, but that process is ongoing and the goal is to stand up such a database.”


Last month, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law called the Stolen Valor Act which prohibits a person from falsely claiming that he has been awarded a military honor.

Related: High court strikes down Stolen Valor Act

That law had been considered by its supporters to be a deterrent to false claims.

The Supreme Court case involved Xavier Alvarez, who claimed in 2007 that he was a retired Marine, had been “wounded many times,” and had been “awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor” in 1987. In fact, he never served in the United States armed forces.

Alvarez pleaded guilty to violating the Stolen Valor Act, but claimed that his false statements were protected by the First Amendment right of free speech.

Related: Lying about military service? Bloggers have you in their sights

The majority Supreme Court opinion found the law's limit on free speech unconstitutional.

The Pentagon database does not have a launch date and details about which medals and range of years to include still need to be settled, Little said.

Veterans of Foreign Wars, which has advocated for such a database and criticized the Supreme Court decision, applauded the announcement in a statement to msnbc.com. 

“The cost is minimal compared to the verifiable proof it provides to honorable service members, veterans and all their families,” said national spokesman Joe Davis.

The Department of Defense had previously estimated the price of a database at $250,000, according to VFW, and declined to create one due to cost, privacy concerns and other factors.

Msnbc.com National Affairs Writer Tom Curry contributed to this report.

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