Since Memorial Day the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Houston National Cemetery has faced allegations of attempting to regulate and control the freedom of religious speech during VA-sponsored events, such as ceremonies and funerals for both veterans with disabilities, and those without. The alleged attempt at censoring religious speech during a Memorial Day ceremony led to a federal lawsuit being filed against the cemetery, which was finally settled.
As part of an agreement that arose from mediation, the VA has made multiple agreements as to how the cemetery will operate going forward, according to an article in The Houston Chronicle. The final agreement does not have a Judge’s signature on it yet, but filed documents detail the settlement.
To begin, the VA has agreed to pay $215,000 worth of fees and expenses for attorneys but has said that payment does not equate to any admission of guilt or liability. The payment is part of an existing VA policy and/or practice.
Most importantly, the VA openly agrees not to “interfere,” adjust, or control any words of “religious expression” without a family’s objections. Further, there will be no restriction on the types of services held with regard to “religious or secular content.” The VA has also agreed to in no way limit any level of private, religious speech during a ceremony the VA is sponsoring.
If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, a South Florida disability attorney from LaVan & Neidenberg is ready to help. To learn if you are entitled to certain programs and benefits contact our veterans disability rights firm today – 1-888-234-5758.