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March 07, 2019

Veterans Nursing Home Reportedly Threatens to Boot 84-Year-Old Widow for Hosting Bible Study

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Artis Breau is a widow who moved into the Veterans' Home of California with her late husband nine years ago. For most of the time at the home, she’s openly led Bible Study classes.

However, this year the home turned against her and threatened to evict her if she continued with the studies.

Artis Breau, 84, has alleged that the Veterans' Home of California in Yountville has threatened to kick her out of a residence for veterans. She said the reason for the threat was because they wanted her to stop hosting Bible studies.

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Her husband, who had lived with her at the home, passed away a few years ago. He had served as a Merchant Marine, Army, in World War II, and during the Korean War, he served in the Air Force.

They met in the 1950s while she worked at the Pentagon as a civilian employee in the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army. For most of the last decade, the widow has been volunteering with the chaplaincy program.

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She’s also led Bible studies at an area of the residence known as the Holderman Building. The space is a shared area for residents of the home.

However, recently, Breau was informed by the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) that she would face "involuntary discharge" or expulsion if she didn't drop the Bible study classes.

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Brad Dacus, the president of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the firm representing the widow said:

"This shocking attack from the state against our client's exercise of religious convictions is deeply disturbing. The state seeks to punish Artis based on non-existent directives, and deprive her of a personal ministry to the veterans who have benefited from her religious services for years. Artis isn't fighting just for herself, but for the Gospel and for the residents who are unable to fight for themselves against the state's attempted intimidation."

The widow, who is an Evangelical Jew, came under scrutiny last September when she had a discussion with another resident about heaven and hell. According to PJI, the conversation led the elderly man to lose sleep and it was deemed "elder abuse, emotional abuse, and otherwise illegal."

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Three months later, the veteran’s home informed Breau that her volunteer status had been suspended indefinitely due to an ongoing investigation. However, the elderly woman claimed she had never held an interview with CalVet officials about the alleged complaint.

Last week, the widow was finally allowed to continue leading the Bible study. However, she only ministers to some of CalVet's most elderly and mobility-challenged residents who struggle with attending chapel services.

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On Friday, a CalVet attorney threatened Breau with expulsion if she didn't stop offering the voluntary Bible studies. The attorney claimed that the decision had come about in the interest of the "health and wellbeing" of the residents.

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In a statement, Lindsey Sin, the deputy secretary of Women Veterans Affairs at CalVet, said:

"The safety, security, and wellbeing of all of our residents is our top priority. We are very proud of the religious services provided to all of our residents through our chaplaincy services. This investigation concerns the private conduct of an individual. Beyond that, we are unable to comment on an ongoing investigation."

Breau told her lawyers that she believed she was being targeted because of her religious beliefs.

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On February 15, Vietnam War veteran David Cornelius arrived at around 2 a.m. at the Microtel in Bentonville with his service dog Juliana. The man who suffers from a disability had made a reservation by telephone.

However, after checking-in and fetching his bags, he was confronted by the clerk who told him Juliana was not allowed in the hotel. Despite explaining that the canine was a service dog, he still had the police called on him and he was forced to leave

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