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Senator Jim Webb aims to make Stolen Valor Act constitutional

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Posted at 9:30 PM, Jul 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-11 21:30:22-04

Retired Senior Chief Petty Officer Mike O'Shea is just one of the many members of VFW Post 3160 in Ocean View, all who know the sacrifices of war.

“When a person has been in a combat situation, been shot at and earned every medal they have, they have a certain pride in that,” said O’Shea.

These veterans just can't accept that a recent Supreme Court decision protected those who lie about their service under the First Amendment.

“They do have the right to free speech, but I don’t agree that it should infringe upon the honors who actually have been in those situations, that deserved those medals,” said O’Shea.

Senator Jim Webb stepped on the Senate floor Wednesday to introduce his new bill, which hopefully will make the Stolen Valor Act constitutional again.

Senator Webb talked exclusively to NewsChannel 3 right after he submitted his bill.

“For someone who has not served to come in and get material benefit from something they did not do is just not right,” said Webb.

The 2006 version of the Stolen Valor Act criminalized any false statements about claiming war honors and medals.

Webb’s new bill would narrow the law's reach to only those that lie about their service for material gain.

“If you put it on a resume, apply for veterans’ benefits, use it in criminal or civil court proceedings, or if you are trying to sell something based on that false experience, then it would fall under the legislation,” said Webb. “I think everyone should be comfortable we are fixing this. We are protecting the First Amendment, and we are protecting the dignity of service.”

The senator’s bill comes just as the Pentagon announced plans to create a valor award database, accessible to the public when trying to verify someone's military service.

The details are still sketchy, and no completion date has been given. Combined with Webb's new bill, veterans like O'Shea say it will now be easier to root out the fakers.

“They have an agenda, I believe that is criminal, and they should be prosecuted for it.”