(By Todd Starnes, FOX NEWS RADIO) Why did VA hospitals restrict and in some cases ban volunteers from bringing holiday cheer to patients?
That’s the question Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) wants answered. He’s the chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and he’s accusing the VA of disrespecting Christmas as well as censoring and obstructing volunteers bearing gifts and Christmas cards.
Among the allegations:
* The VA medical center in Augusta, Ga. Banned high school carolers from singing Christmas songs containing religious references in public areas of the hospital. The students declined to perform from a government-approved list of secular songs.
* VA officials in Iowa City, Iowa, told American Legion volunteers they could not hand out gifts to veterans if the wrapping paper included the words “Merry Christmas.”
* VA personnel in Montgomery, Ala., prevented a young woman from delivering gift bags to veterans because they included the words “Merry Christmas.”
* The Dallas VA medical center refused to accept the delivery of handwritten Christmas cards from local school children because the cards contained phrases like “Merry Christmas” and “God Bless You.”
“In taking it upon themselves to restrict Christmas cards, carols and gifts in certain locations, VA officials clearly ignored longstanding federal government traditions, basic common sense and possibly a 2011 federal consent decree that ordered VA not to ban religious speech,” Miller wrote in a letter to Eric Shinseki, the secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.