Oklahoma fights to make stolen valor a punishable crime


Members of the Senate vote on Bill 995. SB 995 will punish those who impersonate members or veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

As of February 28, Oklahoma is half way to punishing those who falsely identify their services in the U.S. Armed forces or falsely represent military valor with more sever than a slap on the wrist.

With Senate voting unanimously, 41-0, in favor, those who impersonate or misrepresent themselves as a member or veteran by wearing stolen valor shall be guilty with charges as severe as a felony and a $5,000 fine or imprisonment in a county jail for up to a year. While SB 995 still must go through the House, many Oklahomans are hoping to see this become a law in 2018.

“In some cases, these people gave their lives and other cases they sacrificed bodily injury and have earned such a unique medal and recognition,” said Pete Reed, former director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs.

Examples of stolen valor include the Medal of Honor, the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross. By falsely representing themselves with valor, people are receiving everything from a free meal to a lifetime full of free gifts and recognition.

Recipients of valor are awarded for the highest levels of commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces through their personal sacrifices. Many fraudulent individuals boast about a fictional combat tour they experienced in their 20’s while others, who have served, spice up their time in the Armed Forces by claiming tales as far as being a POW (prisoner of war).

“It’s not just the medal of valor to me, it’s any person who has served. Whether it’s a Purple Heart or anything else, those people earned those awards. Not only the medal of valor has been taken advantage of, it’s all those who have served. And that is not right,” said Reed.

Representative Josh West (R-District 5) of the Oklahoma House Representatives and Vice Chairman on the Committee of Veterans and Military Affairs is a veteran who suffered physical and mental trauma during his three deployments, two being combat deployments.

“On October 16, 2003, in Karbala, Iraq, I was shot in both of my legs, my stomach and I had a traumatic brain injury,” West said.

Representative West believes this bill is important so that the honor and recognition of our members and veterans of the United States Armed Forces can be given where it is due.

“Three of my brothers over there died in the fire fight. Several of my other soldiers were injured badly,” West explained. “I take that stuff to heart. I’ve seen my brothers get their heads blown off defending the constitution and our country.”

Representative Avery Frix (R-District 13) is the House author of SB 995 and Representative West will be the co-author so that he can see this bill through.

“I think it’s a disgrace to members who have worn uniform and died in combat and I hope that if this law passes, that those impersonating and wearing uniform are charged to the fullest extent.”

The number of stolen valor has risen so substantially that many veterans are taking matters into their own hands. Some veterans are calling out people in false uniforms and some organizations like Guardian of Valor, are going as far as creating a ‘Hall of Shame’ that condemns those who have been caught misrepresenting valor.

If you believe that anyone is claiming stolen valor for benefits that are not theirs to have, you can go to Report Stolen Valor.org and report the fraudulent.