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
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.
Download VA Form 40-1330, available at VA Form VA40-1330 - Application for Standard
Government Headstone or Marker, https://www.va.gov/vaforms/form_detail.asp?FormNo=40-1330
Fill out the form indicating and have your signature notarized.
File the paper your other important papers, and if deemed necessary provide
certified copies to others who you want to be aware of your wishes and who can
help your family at the time of need.
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.
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.
For more information on the Druid quest to get the Awen symbol approved please see
|June 27, 2009|