Battling the Storm Within

Sunday, March 4, 2018

VA employees wanted a gender-neutral mission statement. The agency refused.

What began as a rallying cry among post-9/11 military veterans has revealed deep divisions within the Department of Veterans Affairs headquarters, where, in an apparent act of rebellion, staffers amended the agency’s 59-year-old motto on a newly released strategic document because the words exclude mention of women’s service and sacrifice.

The document, outlining VA’s objectives through 2024, was posted to the agency’s website Monday evening and removed a day later when officials learned its mission statement had undergone unauthorized editing. At issue is omission of the word him, which appears in a line from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address in 1865 — and VA’s motto since 1959: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”

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