New NM law makes stolen valor punishable by law

Courtesy: AP

It will soon be a crime in New Mexico to impersonate a service member.

Stolen valor is becoming a state law in New Mexico, effective July 1, 2018.

New Mexicans we spoke with were mixed on the idea of making stolen valor an offense punishable by law.

"It's wrong,” said Donna Daly, a wife of a National Guardsman. “It's so wrong."

"I believe it's disrespectful,” said Sunland Park resident Jose Adame. "I think it's disrespectful to get -- to try and get their benefits, you know, by lying or doing mischievous things."

Gov. Susana Martinez signed the House bill last week, making it a misdemeanor to make false claims of military service for personal gain.

In New Mexico, a misdemeanor is punishable by a fine up to $1,000, up to a year in jail, or both.

Folks we spoke with were mixed on the law.

Some were supportive of the new legislation.

"It's a great first step, but I think it should be a harsher penalty than just a misdemeanor,” said Adame.

While others did not believe stolen valor should be punishable.

"I'm kind of caught in the middle,” said Sunland Park resident Sonny Cenicros. “I don't think it should go as far as a misdemeanor."

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill in 2015 creating harsher punishments for stolen valor, making it a class B misdemeanor.

It carries a fine up to $2,000 and up to 180 days in jail.

Though the folks we spoke with were split on the punishment, they all agreed that impersonating a service member is wrong.

"People actually died for our country and my husband has been deployed, and I can't imagine if he never made it back and for someone to lie about it,” said Daly.

"Politics aside, I mean, it's a great service that they do for us and I believe it's wrong for somebody else to try and get the benefits that they're getting through their hard work,” said Adame.

Martinez also signed four other bills helping military members and their families.

In a statement she said:

One of my priorities is protecting those who put their lives on the line for our freedom. By signing these bills into law I want to recognize the hard work and dedication of all the brave men and women who serve our state and nation in the U.S. Armed Forces.

House Bill 47 expands eligibility for use of the Family Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to all members of the National Guard and their families. Previously, the fund was only available to National Guard members deployed overseas for 30 days or more. This assistance helps members of the National Guard and their families to pay for things like food, rent, and utilities when facing financial emergencies.

Senate Bill 97 ensures out-of-state teachers who are active duty military, veterans, or spouses of military personnel receive their New Mexico teaching licenses as quickly as possible. This will both allow military families to settle into the community quickly and help schools fill vacancies with quality, licensed teachers.

Senate Bill 86 allows parents, spouses, children, and siblings of military service members killed in the line of duty to purchase a gold star family license plate. Previously, only parents, stepparents, stepchildren, and spouses were eligible for the plate.

Senate Bill 16 increases the rank required to be appointed as adjutant general from major to at least colonel. This will give the adjutant general more federal recognition and increase the credibility of the New Mexico National Guard.

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