Military Roll of Valor Act of 2007

From the News Story Archive

September 29, 2007

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 forward."

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 yesterday.

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 military medal.

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 veterans.

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 .

For more on Glenn Marshall, referenced in this story and whose case made national headlines in August 2007 and was a driving force in moving the  Roll of Valor Bill forward, visit our section on how HR 3769 will help promote ACCURACY IN MEDIA.

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