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House set to pass new Stolen Valor Act to crack down on false combat service, medal claims

The House of Representatives is expected to pass a retooled version of the Stolen Valor Act this week that makes it illegal for people to falsely claim military medals and combat service in order to obtain money or other valuables.

The aim is to protect the honor of veterans who have put their life on the line for their country.

The original act, passed in 2006, was struck down in June by the Supreme Court on First Amendment free-speech grounds. It mandated jail time for people making false claims about military service.

In their ruling, justices suggested that a more narrowly written bill might pass constitutional scrutiny. 

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., introduced the new version of the act – with 107 cosponsors. – that would make it a crime for a person “with the intent to obtain money, property or anything of value” to make false claims about their military service. If found guilty, an offender could be fined and/or imprisoned up to a year.

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The bill was amended by the Judiciary Committee to exempt individuals who merely wear a medal they did not earn.

The House was scheduled to vote on the measure Tuesday afternoon, and the Senate was likely to consider it later this fall. Heck wasn't immediately available for comment.

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In response to the Supreme Court decision, the Defense Department launched a website in July listing the names of Americans who have received the Medal of Honor since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In August, the website was expanded to list recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross and Air Force Cross.

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