Robert Wilkie, Veterans Affairs Secretary, disagrees with former Obama administration restrictions on religious beliefs in the veterans’ health care systems.
Wilkie believes the administration was just wrong in its strategy of enforcing the division of church and state in facilities. The ignorance was a “great disservice” to the women and men who heroically served their country, reported to the Washington Times.
Wilkie said, “The last administration had a very ahistoric approach to veterans; they didn’t know the makeup of the organization. When it came to religious foundations, the religious support for those in uniform, they did not know the history of this nation.”
Addressing the directives under previous President Barack Obama and the assault on liberty posed by laws meant to restrict religious expression in VA hospitals and facilities, he believes most veterans “identify themselves religiously, Wilkie told The Times “
He also discussed the complicated position VA officials found themselves in when they removed a WWII-era Bible from a showcase placed in the lobby of a Manchester, New Hampshire hospital. They eventually restored the Bible to the POW/MIA memorial table, but a pending lawsuit filed in May seeks to remove forever the book donated by a World War II veteran, even as the Trump administration has sworn to challenge the move.
Wilkie said, “I think the administration of the VA hospital still wasn’t sure how to proceed given the directives of the previous administration.” He added, “The underlying notion here is that there is a group of individuals who want to eliminate all indicia of spirituality and religion from the towns square, And they’ve used the military as their hobby horse, and that, to me, is a great disservice to the large majority of those who served and fought our country.”
The Army Chaplain Corps were forbidden from giving out Bibles, Torahs, and even Korans, to veterans who requested them under the Obama management, Wilkie added. Even Christmas songs were banned. The bans on religious representations and expressions oppose the very saying of the Army Chaplain Regimental Corps crest, Wilkie quarreled, which states “Pro Deo et Patria,” For God and Country.
“What I consider to be the strange argument that men and women who have been assigned to the most dangerous corners of the Earth, the most wretched places on the planet, would wander by a Bible on a table dedicated to missing men and go to pieces by the view of that Bible when so many of them have been under attack in Afghanistan, Iraq, Liberia, Somalia just goes counter to all reasoning,” Wilkie fought. “For vets, we’re not going to deny them of that religious happiness during what is frequently a very, very trying time,” he added.
On Wednesday Pence said in a speech at the American Legion National Convention in Indianapolis, IN. Vice President Mike Pence stated this week that the Trump administration would be striving to get rid of some of the Obama-era confinements on faith in Veterans Affairs clinics. “As we meet the health care needs of our vets, let me make you another promise: This house will always make room for the spiritual needs of our heroes at the VA as well,”
The Trump administration will “eternally respect the freedom of faith of every vet of every religion,” the VP added, telling those suing to eliminate the New Hampshire Bible that “the Bible stays!”