Richardville introduces veterans protection legislation
LANSING – Sen. Randy Richardville introduced legislation Wednesday aimed at honoring veterans by establishing and increasing current penalties for those who act dishonorably toward the men and women who serve our country.
“Unfortunately, there have been cases in Michigan and across the nation where veterans have not received the respect that they deserve,” said Richardville, R-Monroe. “This legislation will serve as a deterrent to anyone who tries to dishonor the service of our nation’s brave soldiers.”
Senate Bill 949 increases the penalties for destroying war monuments. If convicted, a vandal could face a fine and community service in a veterans’ home or service organization.
Richardville said he sponsored this legislation after Monroe County’s “War on Terror” memorial was vandalized. A mother whose son fought in that war discovered the damage when she visited the memorial. She contacted the local police, only to discover that the current punishment to vandals is a slap on the wrist.
“War monuments and memorials are created to honor the actions of our country’s courageous men and women who serve or have served in the military,” Richardville said. “Families and friends seek comfort from them.”
Richardville also introduced Senate Bill 950, the “Stolen Valor Law,” to establish penalties for those who falsely claim to be a veteran or member of the military or those who misrepresent their military service for financial or personal gain. The penalties for this crime also include a fine, community service to veterans and/or imprisonment.
“The community service penalty will allow individuals who commit these despicable acts to meet the very men and women they have dishonored,” said Richardville.
Sheilah Larnhart, a Gulf War Veteran and resident of Newport in Monroe County, asked Richardville to support a Stolen Valor Law in Michigan.
“We want to send the message that there will be a consequence for any individual who embellishes or fabricates a military service record,” said Larnhart. “Valor belongs to the real warriors. We must be vigilant in our efforts to shut down stolen valor.”
In one such case, a soldier enhanced his service record by claiming he was injured in Afghanistan. As a result, he was invited to events, such as rock concerts and baseball games, where he was recognized for his service. In reality, the soldier had served in Japan and Quantico, Virginia, and was never stationed in Afghanistan.
The bills will now go to the Senate Senior Citizens and Veterans Affairs Committee for consideration.
Posted: Thursday, October 29, 2009
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