New Bill Targets Bogus Veterans
Military members are often afforded certain perks like sales discounts, free drinks and even financial help, and that is why some believe there's been an increase in the number of people who impersonate veterans.
A viral video posted in late 2014 on guardianofvalor.com shows a man in an Army Ranger uniform being confronted by another man who exposes him as a fake veteran. The video, seen by more than two million people, is part of the reason a New Jersey legislator says he will introduce a bill Monday, Jan. 12, to address the issue.
"Unfortunately, we have to put these laws in place to try to stop unlawful disrespect, actually, to the veterans," said Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo (D-Northfield). "When our veterans come home from serving their country they get certain privileges, rightfully so, but there are people out there who are trying to take advantage of it."
The legislation would make it a third-degree crime for anyone to knowingly misrepresent themselves as a member of the military -- for the purpose of obtaining money, property or another benefit -- by wearing the uniform, or any medal or insignia, authorized for use by the members or veterans of the U.S. Military. Anyone convicted of such a crime would be fined a mandatory minimum of $1,000.
"They're going to be fined, and also, it's going to be able to help other families going forward," Mazzeo said.
Any fines collected under Mazzeo's bill would be dedicated to the Military Dependents Scholarship Fund, which would be established by two bills currently pending in the state legislature. The fund would provide college scholarships to the spouses and children of those killed, missing in action or disabled in Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, or Operation New Dawn.
The measure has been dubbed the "New Jersey Stolen Valor Act," and is modeled after an existing federal law.
Below: the video posted by Guardian of Valor's "Stolen Valor" YouTube account in November 2014, taken at the Oxford Valley Mall in Langhorne, PA.