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."
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