July 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued new policies Wednesday expanding the display and availability of religious symbols at VA facilities.
The VA said the changes, which took effect Wednesday, are meant to ensure that VA patrons have access to religious literature and symbols at chapels as requested.
"We want to make sure that all of our Veterans and their families feel welcome at VA, no matter their religious beliefs. Protecting religious liberty is a key part of how we accomplish that goal," VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said. "These important changes will bring simplicity and clarity to our policies governing religious and spiritual symbols, helping ensure we are consistently complying with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at thousands of facilities across the department."
The policy changes allow for religious content to be included in publicly accessible displays at VA facilities in "appropriate circumstances" and for patients and their guests to request and be provided religious literature, symbols and texts during visits to VA chapels and during treatment at VA facilities.
They also allow the VA to accept donations of religious literature, cards and symbols, and distribute them to VA patrons upon request.