PDT Staff Writer
Area veterans are responding to the Supreme Court ruling on the “Stolen Valor Act.”
Thursday the Supreme Court struck down the Stolen Valor Act, saying that the First Amendment defends a person’s right to lie — even if that person is lying about awards and medals won through military service.
According to ABC News the case started in 2007 when California man Xavier Alvarez was convicted under the Stolen Valor Act of 2006 — federal legislation that made it illegal for people to claim to have won or to wear military medals or ribbons they did not earn. Alvarez had publicly claimed to have won the country’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, but was later revealed to have never served in the military at all.
Wendell Skinner, of Sciotoville, was shot down in Vietnam and received the Purple Heart.
“Ever since I got out of Vietnam, nobody wanted to be a Vietnam veteran,” Skinner said. “And all of a sudden everybody wants to be a Vietnam veteran. It must make them think that they’re something they’re not. I don’t understand it.”
Skinner said more American military personnel have committed suicide than were killed in the actual wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“So this is kind of a slap in the face to not only them, but also their kids and families,” Skinner said. “There’s going to come a time when they will have to prove what they said they did. If they go trying to get into the VA (Veterans Administration), that’s not going to work. I don’t even know why they would even do something like that because it’s going to create so much work for so many people. Now, when they didn’t serve in the military, and they go to the VA, the employees will have to go through all of this rigmarole.”
Skinner said he read the book “Stolen Valor.”
“These guys have actually gotten benefits. And they’re wearing the Congressional Medal of Honor, and there’s no shame,” Skinner said. “If that’s what they want to do, I guess they’re going to do it regardless. They’ve been doing it anyway, regardless of what the Supreme Court said.”
“I don’t feel very good about it because serving your country and performing acts of valor is something very important,” Ken Crawford, Commander of Post 23 of the American Legion, said. “As an ex-military person, or any military person, that is taking away from what you did and what others did in serving their country. And I totally disagree with it. I don’t think it’s right.”
“In my opinion it is a very bad decision, but we’ve got to live with the law of the land,” Crawford said. “I just think it takes away from those people who gave their lives and who won medals, and who served our country.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com