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Pentagon inches into a Stolen Valor database

Post by Cheryl Tucker on Aug. 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
August 1, 2012 4:39 pm
An F-16CJ from the 78th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., releases a 2,000 pound bomb during a test mission in 2003. (TECH SGT. MICHAEL AMMONS/US AIR FORCE)

On the website I learned that the Air Force is compiling a database listing every bomb its planes have dropped since World War I. Sounds like a monumental mission, right?

Yet the Pentagon has long said that it would be too hard for it to compile a database listing medals given to service members – something that could be checked to verify claims all too many people falsely make.

I always thought that argument a little specious. So I was glad to learn that the Pentagon is backtracking and is, indeed, setting up a medal database. It’s taking baby steps, though. A new website unveiled late last month lists only recent recipients – since Sept. 11, 2001 – of the Medal of Honor and service crosses.

The Pentagon says the database eventually will also list Silver Star recipients – again only after 9/11. But it won’t list Purple Heart recipients, which a lot of people falsely claim to have been awarded.

Such a database is needed because so many people (all right, let’s be honest here – men) falsely claim to be decorated veterans. Congress tried to address the problem with the 2005 Stolen Valor Act, which made it illegal to lie about having been awarded any U.S. decoration or medal. But the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the law was an unconstitutional infringement of free speech. Now efforts are under way to make it illegal to try to profit from lying about being decorated.

I’m having a hard time understanding how the military can document every bomb it dropped since World War I but can’t figure out how to document medals it gave out earlier than Sept. 11, 2001. All that tells hero wannabes is that they should be careful to only claim medals awarded earlier than that date.

Can anyone who knows better than I how the military operates explain this to me? I must be missing something.



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