WASHINGTON -- Vietnam veteran Doug Sterner, the inspiration for Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's recently introduced Stolen Valor Act, is endorsing Brown's Democratic opponent for Senate, he told The Huffington Post.
The Stolen Valor Act was originally signed into law in 2006, and made it a crime to lie about war heroism. On the same day that it validated President Barack Obama's health care law, the Supreme Court ruled that Stolen Valor is an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.
Brown and Nevada Republican Rep. Joe Heck quickly introduced a revised version that makes it a crime to lie about valor only if the liar profits. "I believe very strongly that we need new Stolen Valor legislation, and I support every effort to make that happen. But I don't want to see it co-opted for political purposes," he said of Brown's revised bill.
For Sterner, the day of the court ruling was sweeter than it was bitter. "I believe that one of the single most important issues facing America today is health care for all Americans. It's far more important than Stolen Valor," he said.
During an interview on Stolen Valor the day of the decision, he said he had to suppress a "squeal of glee" when he heard in the background that Obama's health care law had been upheld.
"That weighs very, very heavily on my decision" to endorse [Elizabeth] Warren, the lifelong Republican said. Expanding access to health care, he said, is "very much a matter of humanity."
Sterner served two tours in Vietnam and has spent years creating a database of war stories, debunking tall tales told by fraudulent heroes. His website, "Hall of Valor," is connected to the website of the Military Times. His wife, Pam Sterner, drafted the language that became the original Stolen Valor Act.
Pam Sterner's original bill never got a hearing and passed by unanimous consent. Doug Sterner said he thinks that if more deliberation had been taken in the legislative process, the constitutionality questions may have been addressed.
"While I welcome attention to Heck-Brown," he said, "I hope that this time we don't rush to pass just any bill."
Start of War: Oct. 7, 2001
<em>American soldiers hide behind a barricade during an explosion, prior to fighting with Taliban forces November 26, 2001 at the fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)</em>
Number of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan: 88,000
<em>US Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from the USS Bataan's Amphibious Ready Group arrive December 14, 2001 at an undisclosed location with field gear and weapons. (Photo by Johnny Bivera/Getty Images)</em>
Number of Troops at War's Peak
<em>U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield 13 December, 2001. (DAVE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the war's peak: About 101,000 in 2010. Allies provided about 40,000.
<em>U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a televised address from the East Room of the White House on June 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Withdrawal plans: 23,000 U.S. troops expected to come home by the end of the summer, leaving about 68,000 in Afghanistan. Most U.S. troops expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, though the U.S. is expected to maintain a sizeable force of military trainers and a civilian diplomatic corps.
Number of U.S. Casualties
<em>American flags, each one representing the 4,454 American soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, move in the breeze at The Christ Congregational United Church March 17, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. casualties: At least 1,828 members of the U.S. military killed as of Tuesday, according to an Associated Press count. According to the Defense Department, 15,786 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action.
Afghan Civilian Casualties
<em>Asan Bibi, 9, sits on a bench as burn cream is applied to her at Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. She, her sister and mother were badly burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Afghan civilian casualties: According to the United Nations, 11,864 civilians were killed in the conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began reporting statistics, and the end of 2011.
Cost of the War
<em>An Iraqi man counts money behind a pile of American dollars in his currency exchange bureau in Baghdad on April 11, 2012. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Cost of the war: $443 billion from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Number of Times Obama Has Visited Afghanistan
<em>US President Barack Obama speaks to troops during a visit to Bagram Air Field on May 1, 2012 in Afghanistan. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) </em><br><br> Number of times Obama has visited Afghanistan: 3 as president, including Tuesday, and 1 as a presidential candidate.