Thursday, September 28, 2006

Still fighting the VA over Wicca Emblem on Grave Markers

Hello, again, friends. Well, this isn't over, yet. And, I wrote the VA office and got a total bullshit answer from them. Here's what's going on so far. I don't know if this link will work, so I'll post the text below as well.

09/27/2006 10:43 AM
Sgt. Patrick Stewart gave his life in service of his country a year ago in Afghanistan while fighting the war on terror. His widow has been petitioning the Veteran's Administration since his demise for a grave marker appropriate to their faith, a marker with a pentacle on it, which is the symbol of the Wiccan faith.

When I served this country for six years in the U.S. Air Force, I had Wicca declared as the religion on my dog tags. I served with honor and would still die for the right of any American to freely express their opinions and to practice their chosen religion. My Wiccan brothers and sisters who have served and who are currently serving have sworn to do the same.

How can it be that other small, little known faiths such as the Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii, Soka Gakkai International-USA, and the Eckankar faith have their symbols all approved by your office within the last few years, and the Wiccan faith, whose representatives have been petitioning for the last seven years, still be ignored?

This is a moral outrage and is not representative of what I believe America to stand for. I find the actions of this office to be completely unacceptable and I have contacted both my Senate and House represenatatives regarding this matter. Please resolve it soon.
Respectfully yours,

Response (Dept of Veterans Affairs)
09/28/2006 10:01 AM

This is in response to your inquiry of September 27, 2006. We have been advised by the VA General Counsel that we must conduct a rulemaking to establish procedures governing our consideration of applications for the addition of new emblems of belief to the listing of emblems that may be inscribed on Government-furnished headstones and markers. VA will publish its rule in the Federal Register and allow for public comment. Once the rulemaking is completed, VA will review all pending applications using the criteria set forth in the new regulation.We are unable to provide a timeframe for completion of this process. Thank you for your interest in NCA programs and our Nation's veterans.

09/28/2006 12:46 PM
Can you please tell me why other faiths have had their emblems approved and why Wicca's pentacle has not? Other faiths, who petitioned later than the Wiccans, have had their emblmes approved. Why was theirs approved even though this ruling by the counsel was pending and why was ours not?Respectfully,Sandra