Proposed changes to working with faith-based partnerships delivering benefits, services to Veterans


Under the President’s Federal government-wide Executive Order “Fundamental Principles and Policymaking Criteria for Partnerships With Faith-based and Other Neighborhood Organizations”, signed into law on August 2, 2015, VA is proposing to amend regulations enacted under 2003’s ‘‘Equal Protection of Laws for Faith-Based and Community Organizations’’ in order to eliminate confusing language that may prevent or delay services to Veterans, make grant decisions more fair or bolster religious freedoms of Veterans when receiving services from a faith-based organization.

One of the proposed reforms involves the simple changing of the phrase “inherently religious activities” to “explicitly religious activities.” While it may appear to be a small change, it is indeed a very important change when providing financial assistance to faith-based partners. By law, the federal government is prohibited from providing funds to pay for religious activities such devotional exercises, worship, or dissemination of devotional guides or other religious materials.

However, when applied specifically to VA and the Veterans we serve, the federal government can provide funding to a faith-based organization that provides benefits and services to Veterans as long as the organization does not use the funds to promote religion. This funding must directly benefit Veterans free and clear of any the previously listed religious activities.

The proposed change removes room for interpretation by individuals and narrowly defines religious activity that could determine if federal funds can, or cannot be, awarded to a faith-based organizations to provide services to veterans.

The other proposed changes similarly seek to clarify current policy, level the playing field, and strengthen the rights of Veterans

The proposed changes are open for public comment and are due no later than Oct.5, 2015. Comments can be submitted by using the Federal eRulemaking Portal at All comments will be available to the public, without charge, at and at the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships during normal business hours.




Gary Hicks

is the Director of VA’s Office of Digital Media Engagement. He is a former managing editor of a daily newspaper and a Veteran of the U.S. Army. Gary’s wife is a senior master sergeant stationed at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.


  1. Ch. John Edgeworth    

    Sad but,I have been hacked in too. By some one who has a problem with the VA. The VA has been good to me for 14 years and has taken care of things I had no right to ask for if I had been a employed at just some normal 8-5 job. I loved my USAF JOB . Wish I could still do the Job. But a lot of people get hurt on the job and they are out on their own.
    I am greatful to the USA & VA staff.
    Thank You
    A vet with family who try’s to show how much
    he cares each day.

  2. Ch. John Edgewor    

    I did not type that about the Head of the VA or the MD’s. Sorry but first that is not nice, Second the VA has been good to me, Third I can not spell the word used for Doctor they used. Fourth and last; It is my Duty as a past Fed Chaplain to ID my self fair so if any follow up may be need they know who to talk with about the subject. A Clergery has no right to hide from the people he is their to guide. When did God tell a Fed Chaplain this job is for 20 years. Our calling and service is for a lifetime. So is our respect, and guidance to those we serve. Would you want it,or could it be any other way. Like a judge, a Fed Chaplain gives fair, honest, historical, factual, information. They are their to test the wind and give guidance in the storm.. That is my Calling.

  3. Alvino Hart    

    There are civilian employees by the VA who are only there to disrupt Secretary Robert MacDonald changes to be implemented. They must be located and discharged forthwith. This includes Physicians and Clinicians who do not want him to succeed.

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