New Organization for Pagan Veterans
Word arrived today that a new organization is forming to address the needs and concerns of the Pagan community. According to Valerie Voigt, a mailing list is forming and the organization’s structure will be determined at its first national meeting in November this year.
Given the resistance of the Veterans Affairs to approve a pentacle marker for Wiccans, even as it approved symbols for several other (some with even smaller representation than Wicca) minority religions, it’s not surprising that some Pagan veterans feel disenfranchised enough to organize outside of the mainstream organization. I hope this organization goes a long way in meeting the needs and goals of Pagan vets. However, it would benefit all vets if more Pagans became involved in the VA. Working to meet the needs of Pagan vets outside of the mainstream is great for the short-term, but continuing the battle from within the mainstream will, in the long run, resolve issues of religiously marginalized vets and help set the standard for religious equality.
And now is a great time to work toward that mainstream integration. The last administration’s influence on the decisions of the VA no longer apply. Though I have yet to see statements or evidence that the Obama administration will change the religious standard set in Washington by the Bush administration, the lack of action regarding the National Day of Prayer and its prior emphasis (in the White House, at least) on the Dobson-run task force seems to point in the favor of an easier road for those of minority faiths. In time, perhaps we’ll have a better perspective to judge the state of affairs for military Pagans, whether actively serving or veteran, but for now, I’m glad to see that milpagans have begun the push for equal treatment and representation. I find it sad, however, that the women and men, who fought on behalf of America and our Constitution, now must fight for the equality that Constitution guarantees.
From the Pagan Veterans of the USA:
WHEREAS thousands of Pagan men and women haved served and are serving the United States of America in the Armed Forces;
AND WHEREAS the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, created
to aid and assist veterans of the US Armed Forces, has demonstrated its
unwillingness to aid and assist Pagan veterans
AND WHEREAS the various veterans currently existing in the United States such as The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and others are heavily grounded in Christianity in their rituals, prayers and practices;
AND WHEREAS Pagan veterans are largely made to feel excluded by these
AND WHEREAS all veterans, combat, combat area and others need and
deserve the support of one another, both individually and through a national organization created to serve them and their needs;
BE IT KNOWN that such an organization, Pagan Veterans of the USA is
formed to serve these individuals and their needs, and that membership in this organization is open to any and all members of the US Army, US Navy, US Marine Force, US Air Force and US Coast Guard possessing an honorable or general discharge.