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Working to Remedy Problems in the Stolen Valor Act

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    On July 4th, 1988, six years before the Internet, The American War Library -- with assistance from the Department of Defense under Secretary Frank Carlucci -- became the first agency on our world to place its Nation's list of Medal of Honor category recipients, along with the full texts of their award citations, online for free, global modem access.

    Twenty-four years later, almost to the date of The War Library's creation, The Supreme Court de-criminalized a portion of the Stolen Valor Act by removing the principle means (verbal) by which most medal frauds falsely claim to be a recipient of an American military Honor. Since The War Library's establishment of Grand Medal award recipients online in 1988, dozens of private individuals and several veteran's organizations have also created military medal lists on the Internet.

    In his 'Stolen Valor' opinion on the recent Supreme Court decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested that false statements made by medal frauds could be prevented if lists of medal recipients were available.

    Unfortunately, that is not entirely true because the very fact that medal frauds such as Xavier Alvarez have continued to falsely claim recipientship of High Military Honors confirms that even the most accurate listings of valid Honorees cannot prevent fraud by two groups of individuals who will lie about medal recipientship regardless the number and accessibility of medal lists. One group are individuals so psychologically impaired, and therefore unable or unwilling to rationalize the magnitude of their lies nor conceive that available lists will disprove them, will continue to lie. And two, profit-minded individuals believe that they can reap their profit objective faster than their intended victim(s) will seek verification of their alleged awards. Most victims never bother to verify, and most news reporters who publish articles about those later proven to be frauds, also never bother to verify despite the War Library's quarter-century global accessibility.

    The problem, that Justice Kennedy desired to solve, is not so much the establishment and public access of Medal Lists. This we know because Alvarez succeeded in his lie about being a Medal of Honor recipient even though the MOH list had been online for twenty-four years. The three real challenges for medal listings are 1) educating the American public that valid medal lists working to become complete do exist, and have existed online sine 1988. 2) to educate veterans who are valid recipients of military Honors to ensure that their names appear on the lists because many names were lost by the military over decades of poor or insecure record maintenance. And 3) to require military organizations to meet their community responsibility to verify military service prior to admitting membership, and to responsibly verify the former military status of their local residents.

    Efforts are now underway in Congress to strengthen the Stolen Valor Act with regard to verbal lies. However, the Constitutional protection of free speech will never completely prevent psychotics or criminals from uttering words they know to be lies.

    In the meantime, veterans of valid military awards must, repeat must ensure that their awards are listed for public access. Veterans organizations must enforce their military service and award regulations. (The false military 'careers' of individuals such as Alvarez could have been cut short very quickly simply by any local veterans organization in his city doing their job of maintaining knowledge, if not rosters, of all city veterans.)

    But most of all, the military cannot reasonably be expected to expend, even over a period of several years and perhaps more than a decade, the equivalent of several required weapons systems or the costs of necessary military training programs toward a huge, expensive administration effort to collect, over five military service branches, lists of award recipients... especially during times when military budget reductions may be demanded by the public.

    In 1988 The War Library was assisted by the Department of Defense with its online establishment of the Medal of Honor Registry. Since that time The War Library has worked to collect, and display at no cost to researchers, the lists of names of other award recipients. This project has been on-going for 24 years.

    Again, there will never be a remedy for nuts and crooks, but there is a remedy for valid award recipients... that is, those who make the time to ensure they are properly listed and perpetually recognized for generations to come.

  • Info-Site: Lists of Military Award RecipientsThe Continuing Medal List Collection Project
  • Active Duty and Veteran Registry
  • Public Information Office

Contact Person for this posting: Roger Simpson, PIO
Public Information Office:
The American War Library:
817 East Via Carmelitos
Virginia Building 319 Long Beach CA 90805-7549
Phone and Fax 1-562-422-4100 (Pacific Time Zone)
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This website established 12 April 2012