Today, Rep. John Culberson (TX-07) will testify before the Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs in support of his legislation to clarify the role of the Department of Veterans Affairs in providing a benefit or service related to the interment or funeral of a veteran. Rep. Culberson filed H.R. 2720, in response to acts of religious censorship at the Houston National Cemetery in 2011 under then-director Arlene Ocasio.
"Limiting the free speech of any American is outrageous and unconstitutional, but it is especially offensive to restrict the First Amendment rights of veterans when they have fought and sacrificed to defend those rights," said Rep. Culberson. "I personally attended a funeral service at the Houston National Cemetery and was horrified to witness the censorship firsthand. H.R. 2720 ensures that no veteran or veteran's family will ever suffer such religious censorship at the behest of our federal government again."
WHEN: Wednesday, June 6, 2012
2:00pm ET -- hearing
LIVE FEED: http://veterans.house.gov/hearing/legislative-hearing-on-pending-legislation
Additional witnesses include:
Kelly Shackleford, President, The Liberty Institute
Lisa Ward, widow to Major Richard Ward, US Army, Persian Gulf War
Jay Sanders, Incoming Commander, Veterans of Foreign Wars, District 4
H.R. 2720 prohibits the federal government from interfering with the content of funeral services. It will require that any new VA Cemetery Director is a veteran and can therefore relate to the circumstances of those interred there. It will limit the role of the VA to provide only services that are supportive of veteran burials and removes the risk of religious censorship. It will also require the VA to ensure that a chapel is provided at the cemetery and accessible to the deceased family and that any requested honor guard or other nongovernmental group is provided access.