VA Changes Religious Symbols Policy

The Department of Veterans Affairs has recently edited and updated their policies concerning the use and consistency of religious symbols throughout the military services, and especially in all VA-run hospitals and other nursing facilities and homes for veterans. The Department said they have issued these new guidelines in order to clear up any misunderstandings and to insure that all religions are able to display the symbols of their faith on an equal and consistent basis.

The decision to reevaluate religious symbol policy was motivated by previous policy inconsistencies that led to misunderstandings among staff and patients.

The new rules make clear that religious symbols can only be used in ‘passive displays’ — which means in places such as military cemeteries, military monuments, and on tables or walls in VA establishments, and that prior permission to display such symbols must be recieved from the grounds or building manager. No exceptions will be made for religious holidays. In addition, all VA installations may accept religious gifts and literature for patients and/or visitors, but must display such items always in the same manner and in the same place.

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