I’m sorry, I thought we lived in the “Land of the Free”……..

I’m a huge fan of our constitution and supporter of our military troupes, their families, and a proud flag flyer (just ask my neighbors). I think it’s a travesty that our military men and women come back from fighting for their country only to find themselves homeless, without jobs and support from the country they spent their lives protecting.

In a story dated June 30, 2011 entitled “VA Bans Mention of God at Funerals for Vets” which was sent to me by a good friend, we see that there are still people out there trying to destroy what our veterans have fought and died for to protect.

One Attorney states: “The hostile and discriminatory actions by the Veterans Affairs officials in Houston are outrageous, unconstitutional and must stop,” … Jeff Mateer, Esq., general counsel of Liberty Institute.

The Department of Veterans Affairs and its Director of the Houston National Cemetery, Arleen Ocasio, are engaging in religious viewpoint discrimination in violation of the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, by adding new incidents of religious hostility.

Director of the Houston National Cemetery, Arleen OcasioSince taking the directorship of the Houston facility in April, 2010, Arleen Ocasio has used her position to bully Christians, repeatedly trampling on the religious liberties of Veterans of Foreign Wars District 4, The American Legion Post 586, and the National Memorial Ladies.

On March 15, Director Ocasio told Nobleton Jones, Honor Guard Junior Vice Commander, that he couldn’t say “May God grant you grace, mercy and peace” to grieving families.

“The hostile and discriminatory actions by the Veterans Affairs officials in Houston are outrageous, unconstitutional and must stop,” said Jeff Mateer, Esq., general counsel of Liberty Institute. “Government officials who engage in religious discrimination against citizens are breaking the law. Sadly, this seems to be a pattern of behavior at the Houston VA National Cemetery.”

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law “respecting an establishment of religion“, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

Originally, the First Amendment applied only to laws enacted by the Congress. However, starting with Gitlow v. New York, 268 U.S. 652 (1925), the Supreme Court has held that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies the First Amendment to each state, including any local government.

Here are some other items in which the folks at Liberty Institute have amended an earlier lawsuit against the VA that states the new violations against religious liberty include:

  • VA Forbids Mention of God at Funerals for Veterans and Requires Families to Submit Prayer for Approval to the Government
  • VA instructs the VFW and a Private Funeral Home that they may not present the option of prayer to families
  • VA Tells Volunteers to Remove “God Bless” from Condolence Cards to Grieving Families
  • VA Closes Cemetery Chapel; Uses it for Storage

You can read Liberty Institute’s detailed report of Director Ocasio’s offenses here.

Yeah, I may or may not like the fact that Muslim’s or any other religious group try building on Ground Zero, or that men have the right to believe in God or not, or that I don’t agree with the political views of the press and those behind it, but if I look back at our constitution I have to allow all religious and political views to be expressed because that’s what our guys have fought so hard to preserve.

I was in Vegas last week and watched the beautiful fountains in front of the Bellagio, and though I’ve heard Lee Greenwood’s song “God Bless the USA” a million times, I still teared up in hearing it. I’m truly a die-hard American and appreciate those who fought for my freedom, which include freedom of choice and expression.

Shouldn’t those who fought to give us this freedom of choice be given that same freedom they fought to protect?

About Sue Salach

Sue has a Master's degree in Gerontology and has worked with the elderly and their families for over 30 years and is the Author of "Along Comes Grandpa", a caregiving resource guide, and the novel "If I Walked in Her Shoes". As an ElderCare Expert and Keynote Speaker, Sue employs her comprehensive experience and passion, to educate and promote self-care values to family caregivers and the community at large.
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