As a child, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie remembers, he visited a VA hospital at Christmastime.
“One of my fondest reminiscences rising up, we used to sing Christmas carols on the VA hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina,” Wilkie informed The Daily Signal, sitting in a 10th-floor workplace at VA headquarters on Vermont Avenue Northwest, overlooking the White House.
“Something as simple and as decent as that was being stopped,” he mentioned. “With the assist of the president, we simply mentioned sufficient is sufficient.”
Wilkie grew up at Fort Bragg, the son of an Army artillery commander. He himself served in each the Navy and Air Force reserves, and as a Pentagon official.
Since turning into VA secretary a bit of greater than a yr in the past, he has returned to North Carolina.
“I used to be in my hometown. We have a ravishing chapel within the outdated VA hospital. And I walked in and there have been no Bibles,” the secretary mentioned. “It had been stripped of the symbols of religion.”
The VA revised directives to allow non secular literature, symbols, and shows at company services following a string of incidents lately during which particular person medical facilities banned Christmas carols and a Christmas tree, chapels eliminated Bibles, and chaplains confronted restraints on non secular expression.
Generally, the VA had inconsistent insurance policies throughout the nation.
Officials designed the modifications to shield the non secular freedom of veterans and their households.
The new pointers, which went into impact final month, referred to the latest Supreme Court ruling permitting a cross-shaped memorial to World War I useless to proceed standing on public land in Bladensburg, Maryland.
The excessive court docket’s resolution highlighted the vital position that non secular symbols play within the lives of Americans and their consistency with constitutional ideas.
“The army tradition has been a part of my being, an vital a part of what I consider,” Wilkie told The Daily Signal. “I’ve seen the consequences of fight, each in uniform and out of uniform.”
That army tradition during which he grew up, Wilkie mentioned, additionally prioritizes the “ability of our troops to worship, their right to worship, their right to have access to chaplains, and to be free to celebrate their faith.”