Bill targets bogus medals
By George Brennan
A Colorado congressman picked up his
pace to file a bill that would create a national record of
military honors because of increased pressure from newspaper
reports about fraudulent military claims.
A spokesman for U.S. Rep. John Salazar,
D-Colo., said Thursday the bill would be introduced in the next
session of Congress. Yesterday, on the same day the Times reported
major flaws in the Veterans History Project at the Library of
Congress, Salazar issued a letter urging colleagues to sign on.
"We kind of felt pressured to pick up our time frame,"
spokesman Eric Wortman said. "We got calls from (the Times)
and other sources about this and we thought we had to move
The bill would create the Military
Valor Roll of Honor Act, a database that would "contain the
names and citations of individuals who have been awarded the Medal
of Honor or any other medal authorized by the United States
Congress," Salazar stated in a prepared statement released
The legislative push follows several
reports nationwide that people are making false claims about
military heroics and the awards that come with them.
Glenn Marshall, 57, former chairman of
the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Council, resigned after the Times
exposed his bogus claims of serving at the Battle of Khe Sanh.
Marshall was in high school at the time of the 77-day siege in
Vietnam. His claims, including the lie that he earned several
Purple Hearts, were part of the $2.5 million per year Veterans
History Project at the Library of Congress. Because there is no
national database, the Library of Congress has no easy way to
check on the 50,000 veterans profiled in the oral history project.
The database would also provide a way
for law enforcement to prosecute the Stolen Valor Act, also
introduced by Salazar. The law makes it a crime to claim a
When enough lawmakers have signed on to
support the military honor database bill, it could be filed as
early as next week, Wortman said.
Spokesmen for U.S. Rep. William
Delahunt, D-Mass., whose district includes the Cape and Islands,
and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said they would consider support for
the bill, but expressed concerns about ensuring the privacy of
Along with making it easier to identify
bogus claims, Wortman said the proposed database would provide a
way to honor the men and women who serve their country. "We
don't want these things collecting dust in a drawer
somewhere," he said. "How many of these will be
forgotten if we don't create a database?"
George Brennan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org