Christmas cards will go to local veterans after backlash - Dallas News |

Christmas cards will go to local veterans after backlash

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The American Legion is the latest to come down on the Dallas VA for rejecting religious themed Christmas cards from school children.

The Dallas VA admits someone made a mistake and misunderstood the policy about holiday cards.

The national commander of the American Legion says let these kids deliver their cards and whoever banned them in the first place owes the kids, their teachers and the vets who were supposed to receive them an apology.

The commander calls this discrimination on the basis of religious expression saying courts have ruled such policies unconstitutional and shouldn't be followed.

"They need to go back and put out a referendum or memo to say 'hey, if this happens, don't reject it,'" said James Meiseman, Head Of American Legion Post 110 in McKinney.

Dozens of students who attend Grace Academy in Prosper didn't get to deliver the Christmas cards they made for local veterans because of a VA policy against specific religious cards and phrasing.

The cards were the idea of Susan Chapman, a math teacher at Grace Academy. She's married to a veteran and volunteers with the American Legion and other veterans' organizations.

A VA employee told Chapman her students' cards wouldn't be accepted because of their religious tone, proclaiming Merry Christmas and God Bless You.

There's been a firestorm of backlash since.

The head of the American Legion wrote, "Every Christmas, every religious holiday, Christians are more often targeted for censorship and restriction at VA facilities. Veterans in these hospitals fought to protect such freedoms."

But the VA denies any religion is singled-out.

In a letter sent to the Liberty Institute who represents Susan Chapman, the director of the North Texas VA health care system says the VA does accept holiday cards and distributes them to veterans on a regular basis throughout the year.

But in the case involving the school, the VA admits an employee wrongly told Susan Chapman it doesn't.

He says the VA's Chaplaincy Services reviews all holiday cards to, "ensure that religion is not imposed on any patient either overtly or subtly. In the event they do, chaplains distribute them by asking patients on an individual basis if they will accept a holiday card with religious references."

"People who would be getting a Christmas card or any kind of card, religious or otherwise, all they have to say is, 'no thank you or I don't want that and move onto the next person," said Meiseman.

He said the American Legion and the VA have traditionally had a good relationship but they don't see eye-to-eye on this incident.

"You have one or two in every group that might be offended or be a bah-humbug, but I think the vast majority of veterans would've been happy to get a card from the kids that said 'Merry Christmas'," said Meiseman.

Grace Academy teacher Susan Chapman and the Liberty Institute asked the VA to rescind its policy and allow her students to distribute their holiday cards.

The VA said the cards are welcome but has not commented on whether its' holiday card policy will be changed.

Both sides say in letters they hope this disagreement can be fixed without going to court.

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