Congresswoman Martha Roby

Representing the 2nd District of Alabama

Roby Presses VA for Answers on "Senseless" Censorship of Christmas Gifts

January 2, 2014
Press Release

U.S. Representative Martha Roby is pressing the Department of Veterans Affairs for answers after reports surfaced about homemade holiday gifts and treats being denied to veteran-patients at the Montgomery, Ala. VA facility because they contained the word "Christmas."

According to a WSFA News 12 report, Jordan McLendon, 20, of Wetumpka, Ala. made more than 100 cards, gifts and treats to distribute to veterans in the VA hospital on Christmas Eve, but was told rules did not allow gifts and cards containing the word "Christmas." After seeing the news report, Rep. Roby contacted McLendon to hear the full story, and is now pressing the VA for answers. 

"I was touched by the thoughtfulness and patriotism Jordan showed by wanting to do something special for veterans on Christmas, then horrified to learn that such an act of kindness would be restricted in the name of political correctness," Rep. Roby said. "We try to teach our children to respect and honor those who serve our country, and to show kindness and compassion to others. What kind of message is our government sending by discouraging selfless acts of giving unless they are sterilized to remove anything remotely religious?"

In a letter to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Rep. Roby explained that Christmas is a federally-recognized holiday and asked if such a "senseless" policy really exists. 

"My frustration is not with the VA staff at the local facility, who appear to have reluctantly enforced what they believe to be an existing regulation," Rep Roby writes. "I understand that similar incidents have occurred at other VA facilities in the past.

“Rather, my concern is that such a senseless policy exists to begin with, or, in the case that no such policy expressly prohibits mentioning Christmas in cases like this, that the culture of bureaucracy at the VA would encourage facility administrators to err on the side of suppressing religious expression and discouraging acts of kindness toward veterans.” 

Rep. Roby went on to request the text of any policy that might prohibit the distribution of Christmas cards, and asked what affirmative steps the VA is taking to rectify the situation. 

"In this increasingly self-consumed world, a young woman selflessly tried to bring joy and comfort to those who have served our country, many of whom don't have surviving family members to visit them. I imagine these veterans would be sickened to see the very right to religious liberty they fought to defend diluted and denied by bureaucratic rules. If this is a rule, written or unwritten, within the VA, it needs to change."