After reports surfaced that several VA hospitals blocked Christmas cards and other Christmas-specific items from being delivered to their residents during the holiday season, leaders in Congress began questioning the acts. Now, the House Committee on Veterans Affairs is reviewing the VA's policy that bans religious items from its medical centers.
According to The Augusta Chronicle, Committee Chairman Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) sent a letter to Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki ordering an overview of the steps the department is taking to rectify the incidents that occurred around the Christmas holiday.
Miller said in a statement that he expects an answer from the VA by next week.
"Christmas was declared a federal holiday by our government in the 1800s, and it is not up to the department to decide whether veterans, their families, volunteers, and veterans service organizations should be free to sing Christmas carols or exchange Christmas gifts within VA facilities," Miller said, as quoted by the news source.
The news outlet stated that a VA medical center in Augusta, Ga., was one of the facilities that denied Christmas cards to its residents. FOX 4 also reported that a VA hospital in Dallas prohibited school children from the Grace Academy from delivering cards to the patients because the cards featured religious-oriented symbols and phrases.
According in the news source, a spokesperson for the VA released a statement explaining that non-secular cards were distributed freely among the medical centers, while secular cards are handed out on a one-to-one basis with a patient's approval.