File this under “proposals to paint the barn while the house is on fire.” Two members of Congress want to change the VA’s motto to be more gender-inclusive, according to a report from Stars and Stripes.
Currently, the department’s motto is a quote from President Abraham Lincoln’s 1865 inaugural address that reads: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow, and his orphan.”
Instead, Reps. Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., and Brian Mast, R-Fla., want the new motto to read: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors,” according to the report.
“The brave women who have worn our nation’s uniform and their families deserve to be equally embraced by the motto of the very agency meant to support them,” reads a statement from Rice’s office last week.
However, days after the proposed motto change was announced, six veterans’ groups called for improvements to the quality of care in the department, citing instances that are “nothing short of horrifying,” while thousands of veterans face the prospect of homelessness because the department has been late in sending out their GI Bill payments.
Let’s face facts: With all the help the VA needs to properly do its job of caring for our nation’s heroes, whether or not the motto is inclusive enough for 21st-century sensibilities ought to be at the bottom of the list, if not at the very bottom.
Supposedly people can walk and chew gum at the same time, but we’re talking about the federal government, where even necessary reforms and changes to programs like the VA are infamously slow and where any minor distraction from those necessary reforms has the potential to completely derailed the task at hand.
But, sure, let’s spend time and resources making sure that a quote from President Lincoln doesn’t leave anyone feeling left out.