WASHINGTON D,C. , Fla. — There’s a growing push to make sure all veterans are included in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ motto.
Critics argue the language in the motto excludes women, LGBTQ veterans and the families of vets.
The words are prominently displayed outside VA facilities across the country and the headquarters in Washington D.C.: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle.”
The motto comes from President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address in 1865. Over the last few years, there’s been a growing push to update it.
“It explicitly leaves out women veterans, and also veterans who may not identify as a he, so we would really like to see that adjusted,” Associate Director of Government Affairs Kaitlynne Yancy said.
The VA says it will be changing the motto, but the department isn’t saying what the new motto will be.
In a statement, a VA spokesperson said, in part, “The VA motto will indeed change…we are currently working with Veterans, advocates, and others on that change, and will share once that coordinated effort concludes.”
The VA declined to provide a timeline for that announcement.
Members of Congress have also been pushing the VA for the change for several years.
In 2020, Democrats on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs sent a letter to the VA writing, in part, “We agree the original spirit of President Lincoln’s words was one of inclusion. But today, these words exclude millions of veterans and families.”
Some republicans on the committee also said they support making the motto more inclusive.
Veterans groups say the time for change is now.
“Adjusting that to be inclusive of every veteran will communicate that all of our veterans belong from the moment they walk through that front door,” Yancy said.
According to the VA, there are more than two million veterans in the country who are women. They’re also the fastest growing group in the veteran population.
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