Did the military go too far in its attempt to avoid proselytizing to wounded warriors on the wards of Walter Reed? Chuck Norris certainly thinks so — he blasts the Dept of Defense for a Walter Reed memo that instructed Partners in Care — which seems to include non-profit organizations, volunteers and family — not to use or give away religious materials during their visits.
The military has since rescinded the memo, making the point that there are plenty of opportunities for religious practice at Walter Reed and issuing assurances to families and religious groups:
Please know that at admission, all patients are asked for their religious preference and a chaplain associated with their preference visits them regularly to provide spiritual services. In addition, their families may also bring religious material and we will not refuse any religious group entrance.
WRNMMC [Walter Reed National Military Medical Center] provides multiple venues at WRMNMC for religious expression and worship. There is daily Catholic Mass as well as Protestant, Hindu, and Muslim services. Eucharist is also available at the bedside. There are weekly Torah studies, multiple weekly Christian bible studies, as well as weekly Qur’an study. Furthermore, chaplains coordinate spiritual needs for those whose faith groups are not represented by staff chaplains (such as Latter-Day Saints, Buddhist, and Christian Scientist).
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center remains committed to supporting the religious preferences of all our patients and we will continue to ensure their spiritual needs are met.
As Walter Reed rewrites this policy, we humbly suggest that its drafters draw the distinction between supporting wounded warriors and imposing on them while at their most vulnerable. Their lives have just been turned upside down, their bodies often changed forever. While they are at Walter Reed, there are precious few areas in which wounded warriors have any control: they can’t decide, say, when to have PT or how long to stay in isolation or where to take their spouse to dinner on their anniversary. The least we can do is give them control over how to practice their faiths — or not. So it is really pretty simple: let the warrior ask for a Bible or a rosary or a Koran or…. and in those cases where injuries prevent warriors from making their views known, check the records. This is basically the policy military chaplains are taught and, from what we saw, it works.