Irminsul Ćttir

VA Headstone and Marker Policy Update Includes Requests for New Symbols of Religion

There have been some recent changes in the Veteran’s Administration policy for requesting headstones and symbols of religion for Veterans. The new policies are detailed in the HEADSTONE AND MARKER APPLICATION PROCESS UPDATE at http://www.cem.va.gov/hm/hmqa.asp

These changes are important to our heathen veterans who want to have a Thor’s hammer as a symbol of their faith placed on their headstone. The update explains who can apply for a government furnished headstone or marker; the process which includes a new form that veterans should be aware of and fill out concerning their choice; what the government considers an emblem of belief; and the type of emblems that are allowed and most importantly how a new emblem must be requested now.

The efforts to have the Thor’s hammer accepted as a symbol for Ásatrú and heathenism have been ongoing for years, starting at the same time as the request for the acceptance of the Wiccan pentacle, and the Druid Awen. At this time, members of Ásatrú and the Druids are waiting for the next of kin or designated representative of a deceased veteran to begin the request process. The new VA policy will not allow the submission or requests for acceptance of a symbol prior to the time of need from individuals or religious organizations or their equivalents. The VA will only consider applications for a headstone or marker, including requests to add a new emblem, on behalf of Veterans or eligible family members at the time of need.

Every individual on active military duty and veteran who is concerned about their right to having a symbol of their religious beliefs should take the following steps: It is very important that individual veterans and their families are aware that there are resources to help should it become necessary from both the heathen and pagan community. If the Thor’s Hammer or Awen is not accepted the decision will now have to be taken to court for judicial review rather than appealing to the VA. Two groups in particular have been involved in networking and bringing pressure to bear in court and before Congressional hearings for many years in such cases.

The Our Freedom Coalition is a forum for networking and resource sharing among leaders of national Pagan organizations in America, as well as other key individuals. It is also a hotline to notify said people of important issues affecting the national Pagan community and to coordinate any national response. OurFreedom@yahoogroups.com. Members of this group were involved in supporting the family of the Wiccan veteran that resulted in the inclusion of the Wiccan pentacle among the approved VA religious symbols. Lady Liberty League (LLL) provides information and networking assistance to individuals and organizations concerned with religious freedom issues pertaining to Wiccan ways, Paganism, and other forms of Nature religions. http://www.circlesanctuary.org/liberty

One organization that is currently forming is the Pagan Veteran’s Association; members of the current e-mail list will meet to form officially in November 2009. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Pagan-Veterans-USA/

For more information on the Druid quest to get the Awen symbol approved please see http://www.dragonskeepfarm.com/headstone/.
Susan Granquist

Irminsul Ćttir

June 27, 2009



Irminsul Ćttir