Chairman Takano, Brownley, Rice Call on VA to Update Exclusionary Motto, Honor Women, LGBTQ Veterans
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mark Takano (D- Calif.), Women Veterans Task Force and Subcommittee on Health Chair Julia Brownley (D-Calif.), and Representative Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y), who introduced H.R. 3010, the Honoring All Veterans Act, led a letter calling on Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to update VA’s exclusionary motto to reflect our country’s growing diversity. They were joined by Reps. Lamb (D-Pa.), Sablan (D-M.P.), Cisneros (D. Calif.), and Underwood (D-Ill.). This renewed push follows Secretary Wilkie’s pledge to install new bronze plaques bearing the current VA motto at VA’s 140 cemeteries, and calls from several Veterans Service Organizations, including those specifically representing women, LGTBQ, and minority veterans, to update the motto.
“When I became Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I vowed to help prepare VA for more women, LGBTQ, and minority veterans accessing VA care and benefits than ever before -- that starts by recognizing the service of all of our veterans,” said Chairman Mark Takano. “By changing its exclusionary motto, VA has a clear opportunity to show millions of women veterans, LGBTQ veterans, and their caregivers that they matter. We don’t need bronze plaques at every VA cemetery, we need VA to serve and honor all veterans regardless of gender or sexual orientation -- its motto should reflect that.”
“VA should take every step to move towards creating a welcoming environment for all veterans,” said Chairwoman Julia Brownley. “As chair of the Subcommittee on Health and Women Veterans Task Force, I hear from veterans every day how women, minority, tribal, and LGBTQ veterans often feel forgotten and invisible. The meaning of Lincoln’s words in their full context were one of inclusion. Changing the motto to meet this intent would be a symbolic and transformative move to meet the intent of recognizing all who have shouldered the burden of this nation’s conflicts.”
“The VA’s current, exclusionary motto is a great disservice to the women and LGBTQ Americans who have bravely fought to defend our nation,” said Rep. Kathleen Rice. “Secretary Wilkie and the VA have argued that updating the motto would be too costly, yet they seem to have no issue dedicating funding for the construction of new bronze displays of the current motto. The VA should scrap this plan and finally change its outdated motto so every American military hero is properly honored and recognized for their service. ”
In their letter, the Members called on VA to change its motto to: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors” in order to honor and recognize all veterans, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Read their full letter here.