Sen. Lesser Votes to Pass Legislation Supporting Mass. Veterans

Sen. Eric P. Lesser voted with the Senate today to pass several bills aimed at protecting Massachusetts veterans.

“As the son of a veteran, I have a personal appreciation for the sacrifices our men and women in uniform make to protect our safety,” Sen. Lesser said. “These measures uphold the honor of that sacrifice and demonstrate our appreciation for their rich contributions to our communities.”

The bills include:

An Act relative to the false representation of military status (Rep. John Velis, D-Westfield)

Known as the “Stolen Valor Act,” this bill makes it illegal to fraudulently represent oneself as a veteran or active service member in order to gain financial or other benefits. Those who commit this crime would be guilty of a gross misdemeanor and would be punished with no more than one year imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine.

An Act providing free park access to Purple Heart Recipients (Rep. Vega, D-Holyoke)

Allows free state park access to Purple Heart recipients.

An Act relative to the removal of veterans, police and fire, commemorative flag holders

Prohibits individuals from removing from a grave any American flag, veteran’s grave marker, metal plaque, veteran’s commemorative flag holder or commemorative flag holder representing service in both the police and fire department.

An Act relative to veterans’ grave markers (Rep. Frost, R-Auburn, and Sen. Moore, D-Millbury)

Penalizes with a $5,000 fine any individual who attempts to sell or knowingly accept veterans’ grave markers.

An Act providing further penalties for intentional loss or damage to a gravestone or other gravemarker (Rep. Smola, R-Warren)

Requires anyone who damages a gravestone to pay restitution to the owner of the property damaged, destroyed, mutilated, defaced, inured or removed.

The bills, passed by both branches of the Legislature, now head to Governor Baker’s desk for his signature.

Sen. Lesser is a member of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Veterans & Federal Affairs and published an op-ed in June explaining the high priority he places on issues affecting veterans and their families.

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