Senate approves Richardvilles legislation to protect veterans
LANSING - As Veterans Day approaches on Wednesday, the state Senate today unanimously approved legislation aimed at protecting the honor of veterans in Michigan.
Sen. Randy Richardville, sponsor of the measures, said the legislation will establish and increase current penalties for those who act dishonorably toward the men and women who serve our country.
“On Veterans Day, we recognize our nation’s brave soldiers for their unwavering service and sacrifice,” said Richardville, R-Monroe. “We owe them thanks for their courage and gratitude for the freedom we enjoy. Unfortunately, there are cases where veterans do not receive the respect that they deserve. We hope this legislation will help deter individuals from participating in acts that dishonor our service men and women.”
Senate Bill 949 increases the penalties for those who destroy or vandalize war monuments. Senate Bill 950, the “Stolen Valor Law,” establishes 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. If convicted of either crime, an individual could face a fine, imprisonment and/or community service in a veterans’ home or service organization.
Richardville said he introduced the bills after hearing from local constituents. A Monroe County mother whose son fought in the “War on Terror” discovered damage to a county memorial. She contacted police, only to discover that the current punishment to vandals is a slap on the wrist.
Sheilah Larnhart, a Gulf War veteran and resident of Newport in Monroe County, testified at the Senate Senior Citizens and Veterans Affairs Committee in support of the legislation.
“Individuals who embellish or fabricate a military service record to take advantage of benefits deserve appropriate consequences,” said Larnhart. “Every time someone gets away with an act of stolen valor, it dishonors those who bravely serve our great nation.”
One 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 to be recognized for his service. In reality, the soldier had served in Japan and Quantico, Virginia, and was never stationed in Afghanistan.
Senate Bills 949 and 950 will now go to the state House for consideration.
Editor’s note: Photographs of Sen. Richardville and Sheilah Larnhart testifying in support of the legislation are available on the Senate Majority Photowire.
Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2009
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