Department for Veterans Affairs ‘accidentally’ changes its motto to the gender-neutral alternative

The sign of the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen in front of the headquarters building in Washington, May 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Larry Downing
The sign of the Department of Veteran Affairs is seen in front of the headquarters building in Washington Thomson Reuters
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs accidentally changed its motto to a gender-neutral alternative.
  • There is a campaign to change it permanently.
  • But this change has been hotly contested under the notion it would be too ‘politically correct.’
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The Department of Veterans Affairs accidentally changed their motto – an Abraham Lincoln quote, “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” – to a gender-neutral alternative.

A federal notice that was emailed had removed he/him and other gendered pronouns and read, “care for those who shall have borne the battle and for their families and survivors.”

This re-ignited the debate over gender representation within the military and the recognition of women veterans.

Speaking with Military.com, VA spokesperson Randy Noller said the wording in the July 23 document was a mistake: “This entry was made in error, and we are going back to the originating office to ensure the mistake is not repeated going forward.”

While specifying “him,” the VA’s website clarifies it is dedicated to “serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s veterans.”

“Continuing to maintain and uphold the motto, despite women veterans having called for change, signals a willful desire to exclude us,” Lindsay Church, a Navy veteran and the CEO of Minority Veterans of America, told Military.com.

“Changing the motto won’t by itself address the deep cultural divide that exists between women in the veterans’ community, but it is a step in the direction toward inclusivity,” she added.

In 2020, Representative Kathleen Rice presented a bill to change the wording of the motto, but whilst the bill made it through the House, it didn’t make it to the Senate.

In April 2021, both she and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced new legislation aimed at changing the motto’s phrasing to: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”

In 2020, Representative Kathleen Rice presented a bill to change the wording of the motto, but whilst the bill made it through the House, it didn’t make it to the Senate.

In April 2021, both she and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced new legislation aimed at changing the motto’s phrasing to: “To fulfill President Lincoln’s promise to care for those ‘who shall have borne the battle’ and for their families, caregivers, and survivors.”