WASHINGTON — More than 600 people in Virginia one year filed state tax returns claiming a benefit for recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest recognition for military valor.
In fact, there were four living Medal of Honor recipients in the state at the time and 132 nationwide.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee from Virginia, offered the numbers Thursday shortly before the panel unanimously approved a bill that would expand the penalties for people who falsely claim to have received military awards.
The bill would make it a crime to lie about receiving a valor medal for purposes of obtaining anything of value, such as health care, a contract or a job reserved for a veteran. Violators would face a fine and up to a year in prison.
Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., the bill sponsor, said its aim is to uphold the integrity of awards against imposters. The medals are given to service members who have acted heroically in uniform.
The bill goes to the full House, which passed the same bill last year. It failed to be enacted when the Senate passed separate legislation. This year, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., is Senate sponsor.
“With today’s strong bipartisan vote we are one step closer to the finish line,” Heck said.
Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.