During Wednesday’s session, State Representative Whit Betts (R-78) voted in favor of a measure that defines the crime of falsely representing oneself as having a military medal or decoration, or wearing a uniform of one of the armed forces that one is not authorized to wear in an attempt to fraudulently obtain money, property, or any other goods or services. “It is reprehensible to think that any individual would make false claims about military service or put on any uniform of the Armed Services when they did not earn the right to do so,” said Betts via a press release from his office. “I proudly voted for this bill, in support of the brave men and women who have served their country with honor and dignity and who have earned the right to military veteran benefits and assistance programs of which they are deserving. This legislation will serve to ensure that those who would attempt to fraudulently claim any such benefit will face the appropriate criminal penalties.”
In the press release, Betts noted that there are numerous opportunities meant for legitimate veterans such as those for veteran-owned businesses and service-disabled veterans which should be protected and preserved for those they are intended to help.
The release from Betts explained the bill is in response to the U. S. Supreme Court’s ruling in U.S. v. Alvarez that stated that the federal military medal misrepresentation statute was unconstitutional because it violated a person’s First Amendment right to free speech. The plurality opinion stated there is no general First Amendment exception for false statements, but acknowledged there are many laws punishing or criminalizing false statements that cause definite and identifiable harm through fraud.
An Act Concerning Military Valor, HB 5293, passed the House on Wednesday and heads to the state senate for action there.
This session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns at midnight, May 7.
Betts represents the towns of Bristol and Plymouth in the General Assembly.