After 52 students at Grace Academy in Prosper, Texas, made Christmas cards for veterans at a local hospital, they were told the cards could not be delivered because of a Veterans Administration policy that forbids certain religious cards and phrasing, Fox News reported.
The cards, Fox said, are still in North Texas.
One student, identified as Luke, described his card.
"It includes ‘Merry Christmas,' and when you open it up, it says 'Thank you for your service' and the American flag," he said.
Luke's mother was outraged when she heard the news.
"This wasn't the country I grew up in, when you couldn't say ‘Merry Christmas,' you couldn't say ‘God bless you' or reference any scripture," she told Fox.
Susan Chapman, a math teacher at Grace Academy, came up with the idea. Chapman, Fox added, is married to a veteran, and volunteers at various veterans' organizations, including the American Legion.
"It really didn't occur to me there would be a problem with distributing Christmas cards," she told Fox.
Chapman said she was told Monday about the policy when she contacted the VA to arrange delivery of the cards.
"I told him my students made cards, we'd like to bring them down for the veterans," Chapman recalled. "And he said, 'That's great. We're thrilled to have them, except the only thing is, we can't accept anything that says ‘Merry Christmas' or ‘God bless you' or any scriptural references because of all the red tape.'"
A VA official later clarified the policy, which states:
"In order to be respectful of our Veterans religious beliefs, all donated holiday cards are reviewed by a multi-disciplinary team of staff led by Chaplaincy services and determined if they are appropriate (non-religious) to freely distribute to patients. After the review is complete, the holiday cards that reference religious and/or secular tones are then distributed by Chaplaincy Service on a one-on-one basis if the patient agrees to the religious reference in the holiday card donation. The holiday cards that do not contain religious and/or secular tones are distributed freely to patients across the Health Care System."
"We regret this process was not fully explained to this group and apologize for any misunderstanding," the official said.
Chapman said she doesn't know what the VA considers "appropriate."
While disappointed for their children, parents say they're more heartbroken for the veterans who will never get a chance to see what the children made for them.
But the cards aren't going to waste.
According to Fox, they are being sent to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio and a private facility for veterans in Louisiana.
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