Defense

July 13, 2012

Pentagon to make database to track medal awardees

by Robert Burns
Associated Press

The Pentagon plans to establish a searchable database of military valor awards and medals, hoping for a technological fix to the problem of people getting away with lying about earning military honors.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said details have yet to be worked out, but the intention is to have a digital repository of records on a range of valor awards and medals going back as far in history as possible.

The move is in response to a June 28 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a law making it a crime to lie about receiving the Medal of Honor and other military decorations. An authoritative database would make it easier to check on award claims, and perhaps would deter some who would make false public claims.

The high court ruled that the 2006 Stolen Valor Act infringes upon speech protected by the First Amendment.

Veterans organizations and some in Congress have long argued that the Pentagon needs such a database. As recently as 2009 the Pentagon argued that it would be too costly and could pose Privacy Act problems. It also argued that any government database would be incomplete because a 1973 fire at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis destroyed millions of personnel records, including those citing medals and awards, and that even a complete database would do little to reduce the number of false award claims.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S., which had expressed sharp disappointment in the Supreme Court ruling, believes that publicizing the false claims of military valor can be an effective deterrent to others.

VFW spokesman Joe Davis said July 10 that his group welcomes the Pentagon’s new approach.

“The cost is minimal compared to the verifiable proof it provides to honorable service members, veterans and all their families,” Davis said.

Little said no final decisions have been made about the type of government database that would be created. He said the goal would to have it include information not only about recipients of the Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest military award, but also those who hold other decorations for valor, such as the Silver Star and Bronze Star.

“There are some complexities involved in looking back into history,” Little said. “We would obviously hope to be able to go as far back as possible, but we also want there to be integrity in the data. So these are factors that are being weighed, and we’re in the process of exploring those options. So the door is open.”

Members of Congress, meanwhile, are taking their own steps to address the problem of fraudulent claims.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., who served in Vietnam as a Marine officer, announced Tuesday that he will introduce legislation which could bring criminal penalties to any individual making a false claim to have served in the military or to have been awarded a military medal or decoration in order to “secure a tangible benefit or a personal gain.”

“Profiting from the misrepresentation of military service or the award of a decoration or medal for personal gain undermines the value of service and is offensive to all who have stepped forward to serve our country in uniform,” Webb said.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Chad Bellay

F-16 test pilots hit the ‘road’ to help train USAFE pilots

Air Force photograph by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford Three F-16s assigned to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on a refueling mission last year. Two F-16 test pilots from the 416th Flight Test Squadron recently returned from a &#...
 
 
Navy photograph

Its reign in the fleet over, naval Sea King helicopter now rests at Pax Museum

Navy photograph At more than 54 feet in length with a 62-foot rotor diameter, the mighty SH-3A Sea King helicopter sits in its final spot at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. Designed as an anti-submarine warfare helicopter,...
 
 
Navy photograph by John F. Williams

ONR testing high-speed planing hulls

Navy photograph by John F. Williams A ship hull model attached to a high-speed sled moves through waves at the David Taylor Model Basin at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock, during Office of Naval Research -sponsored rese...
 

 
af-spacex

Air Force certifies SpaceX for national security space missions

Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space, has announced the certification of Space Exploration Technologies Corporation’s Falco...
 
 
Army photograph

Army’s mid-tier radio advances battlefield network

Army photograph The mid-tier networking vehicular radio, or MNVR, is being tested extensively, including a limited user test, which was conducted this month at Network Integration Evaluation 15.2. This soldier is operating the ...
 
 
DARPA photograph

Human-robot teams compete June 5 at DARPA finals

DARPA photograph Team KAIST, from Daejeon, South Korea, and its robot DRC-HUBO negotiate mock rubble at a test site March 6, 2015. DARPA photo   In eight days, 25 human-robot teams will compete on the rubble-strewn field of a...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>