HARRISBURG – Individuals who falsely claim veteran status to take advantage of a popular state program could be criminally prosecuted under a new state law.
Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20) was among those who worked to create a veterans designation on Pennsylvania driver’s licenses and photo IDs in 2012, as a way to honor their sacrifice and make it easier to access the benefits they earned. Since then, PennDOT has issued more than 190,000 specialty cards.
Unfortunately, others have sought to exploit the program. An audit conducted by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs earlier this year revealed that more than 350 applicants were not qualified to receive the designation.
“In seeking to make the process simple, we made it easier for people to abuse the system,” Baker said. “As we establish and extend state programs to honor and repay our debt to veterans, we must also seek to discourage and sanction those who misrepresent themselves in order to gain undeserved recognition and benefits.”
After hearing concerns from numerous veterans, Baker decided an additional deterrent was needed and introduced legislation to increase stolen valor penalties. Signed by the governor on July 10, the bill makes falsely claiming to be a veteran on a driver’s license or photo ID a third degree misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and possible imprisonment of up to one year.
Andrew M. Seder