Court: Wearing unearned medals is free speech, Dubuque vets unha - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Court: Wearing unearned medals is free speech, Dubuque vets unhappy

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

It's a conversation Jim Wagner has had many times before.

And it's one that invokes disgust among he and many of the veterans he has it with: people who wear medals they didn't earn.

But now thanks to a Federal Court's decision this week, people who do that are protected.  They say it's a form of free speech, protected by the Constitution.

The court overturned the conviction of a Marine who wore the Purple Heart while testifying in a court case in order to boost his credibility.

That decision isn't sitting well with Wagner.

"If anybody can wear them, what about all the people that have earned these and are still suffering yet today. I don't get it," he said.

Wagner received a Purple Heart himself, and has a hard time understanding why people who didn't earn it would try to say they did.

"The medals are going to be absolutely worthless. If anybody can wear them, what good are they?" he wondered.

Dedra Tentis, a retired Air Force officer, agrees, saying it degrades the history behind each medal.

"So if you think about the decades, and not only the decades, but the hundreds of years that the awards have been given out, and the folks that have made those awards what they are today. The folks who actually began the origins of the award. We're not doing anything to carry on the tradition of that award," she said.

The Stolen Valor Act used to make such things illegal, but that was stricken down by the Supreme Court in 2012.

President Obama signed a law in 2013 that made it illegal to profit off of the false portrayal of military experience.

Congress has since removed a provision making it illegal to wear unearned medals.

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