Stolen Valor Act getting widespread support

BOSTON – State Rep. John Velis of the 4th Hampden District said late last week that a piece of legislation he has sponsored, the Stolen Valor Act, is receiving serious bipartisan support.
The bill serves as a beefed-up version of a federal statute making it a felony for an individual to falsely claim military service for financial gain.
In addition to the federal government, several states already have similar laws on their books, but the Westfield Democrat, a captain in the United States Army Reserve who served in combat in Afghanistan, is proposing the toughest stolen valor law in the country, making it a criminal offense that could earn a fine of $1,000, a year in prison, or both.
Velis said that he currently has 55 colleagues in the House of Representatives signed on as co-sponsors with more expected to affix their names to it.
“As a war veteran, this kind of bipartisan support is absolutely moving,” said Velis. “Most bills don’t get anywhere near this amount of co-sponsors.”
Velis said he lobbied his fellow representatives hard at the end of January to sign on to this legislation, which he said has earned ringing endorsements from fellow active duty representatives Jerald Parisella, D-Beverly, and Harold “Hank” Naughton, D-Clinton.
“Every single person who was on the Veterans Committee last session has signed on to it,” said Velis. “The entire political spectrum – from the most left-wing, liberal Democrats to the most right-wing, conservative Republicans – have signed on to this.”
A sentiment of “outright disgust” was the general response to the sort of conduct Velis’ bill seeks to outlaw in the Commonwealth and Velis said many of his colleagues were under the impression that Massachusetts already had a stolen valor law on the books.
The next step for the bill is a hearing of the Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs, which will be a unique hearing for Velis, as he is likely to be placed on that committee this session and will testify in support of his own bill.
Velis said House Speaker Robert DeLeo has indicated “nothing but support for all veterans issues”, including this bill and Velis hopes that the Speaker’s considerable political muscle will help make this bill a reality in the not-so distant future.
“There is widespread support for this bill and I can only hope that we move this bill through this year. Not this session, – this year,” said Velis.

To Top