Tester continues national push to preserve integrity of military service

Senator backs new bill to criminalize lying about military awards, urges Pentagon to move forward with awards database

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is taking new steps to protect the honor of America’s military heroes.

Tester is backing a new bill that makes it illegal for an individual to profit or benefit from lying about their military service or record.  The U.S. Supreme Court recently overturned a similar law, but Tester’s provision is written specifically to address the court’s concerns about the law’s Constitutionality.

“The men and women of our military who make tremendous sacrifices for our country are our true heroes,” said Tester, whose bill makes lying about military service punishable by fine or imprisonment.  “Their sacrifices demand that we hold those who lie about military service accountable, and my bill takes responsible steps to do just that.”

Tester is also calling for the U.S. Defense Department to move forward with plans to establish a searchable awards database.  Tester first called for such a database in March and recently restated the need for a comprehensive database after the Supreme Court’s decision.  In his opinion in the case, Justice Stephen Breyer noted that a database could protect the integrity of military awards.

In urging the Defense Department to move forward, Tester today told Defense Secretary Leon Panetta that a comprehensive database should include at least the servicemember’s name, date of enlistment or commission, rank at which they left the service, conflicts in which they fought and awards they earned while serving. 

Tester said that a comprehensive database will “derail those who would maliciously lie about their service.”  He also noted that it would improve the administering of veterans benefits and health care.

“Generations of American men and women who served our nation in uniform have earned our respect, our recognition and our gratefulness,” Tester told Panetta.  “Ensuring they receive the honors and awards for which they are due is the very least we can do.” 

Tester’s Military Service Integrity Act is available online HERE.  His letter to Defense Secretary Panetta is available online HERE.