Religious Emblems for Headstones

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Department of Veterans Affairs will have a new procedure for requesting that a “new emblem of belief” be added to the VA’s list of emblems available for inscription on headstones and markers for deceased Veterans, as of July 1.

     An applicant for a headstone used to have to show that a belief system is legitimate, and that the Veteran’s belief was sincere, for its emblem to be inscribed on the government-provided headstone.
     The VA now will accept an applicant’s statement regarding the sincerity of the belief system of a deceased Veteran, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and other than prohibiting emblems that explicitly depict sexual content that is “shocking, titillating, or pandering in nature” or that include “coarse or abusive language or images,” the VA plans to avoid establishing a standard for determining whether an emblem is appropriate for inscription on government-furnished headstones and markers. It will, instead, decide on a case by case basis, keeping in mind that the decision may not be “based on the content of the religious or functionally equivalent belief that the emblem represents.”
     Due to limited funds, VA determinations about adding an emblem of belief will only be made once the Veteran is deceased. The VA no longer may research requests made by organizations on behalf of any Veteran who may want to use their emblems. However, a Veteran may give a completed application to his or her next-of-kin or personal representative in case it is needed.

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