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Stolen valor occurs when a person lies about receiving military decorations that he or she has in fact never earned. It has become a major societal problem that has been discussed numerous times in the news and, most recently, by the US Supreme Court. According to The New York Times, the Department of Veterans Affairs paid disability benefits to more than six hundred people falsely claiming to have been POWs in the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars. The number of stolen valor cases reported to the FBI has tripled in the last decade. In fact, more imposters lie about earning high military declarations for battlefield bravery than the actual number of real-life hero recipients. These imposters trade on tales and the trappings of military valor to secure privileges such as career advancements and even unearned veterans’ benefits.
Because officially recognized valor is a calling card of trust and courage, many of these imposters steal” it to invade the lives of people and institutions, for personal gain and often with criminal results. In Restoring Valor, Doug Sterner provides riveting case studies of the stolen valor imposters he’s investigated and exposed, and the serious crimes — including murder — they’ve committed. He chronicles the evolution of stolen valor from the inception of the republic to today. Sterner demonstrates why the federal law he and his wife Pam helped to enact, called the Stolen Valor Act, is necessary.