The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

VA's "Your Life, Your Choices" a non-issue for veterans


Over the weekend, cable news pundits bashed the continued use of VA's end-of-life care planning manual, "Your Life, Your Choices," mislabeling the handbook as "Obama's Death Book for Veterans." AMVETS would like to set the record straight on this handbook, which has been in use with the VA for more than a decade.

"Your Life, Your Choices" is a document designed to help veterans draft a living will to determine how they will be cared for, should they be unable to make decisions for themselves. The document is very similar to documents offered by major health care providers across the U.S., including the sections dealing with end-of-life care. The book was originally issued in 1997. In 2007, the Bush Administration commissioned a panel to review the book. The panel overwhelmingly praised the manual's benefits and decided to continue circulation. The VA has decided to review "Your Life, Your Choices" as a matter of routine, but the handbook remains in publication today and VA officials continue to list it as a viable free resource. To read the latest version of "Your Life, Your Choices," Click Here.

Last week, an op-ed was published in the Wall Street Journal by Jim Towey, founder of the non-profit "Aging With Dignity." Towey's group disagreed with the continued circulation of "Your Life, Your Choices," purporting that President Obama has recommissioned the handbook. This assertion is false. "Your Life, Your Choices" was continually circulated under the Bush Administration. Plus, Towey's motives in publishing his misleading op-ed may not be entirely benevolent. "Aging With Dignity" has its own guidebook to end-of-life care called "Five Wishes," which is available for sale on Towey's Web site. This mess is the latest act of political grandstanding, which has derailed critical work on veterans' issues.

In the op-ed and on Fox News, critics took many passages from "Your Life, Your Choices" out of context, leading viewers to believe that the book advocated assisted suicide and "pulling the plug" on aging veterans. Both of these assertions are, again, false. The book outlines all aspects of end-of-life care, including religious obligations. It advises veterans to discuss end-of-life care with their religious leaders and to suggests ways to have difficult conversations with loved ones.

There is one line in the book that addresses assisted suicide by pointing out that such procedures are illegal and irrelevant to the contents of the book, since living wills are for people who can no longer speak for themselves.

Towey's argument that Obama reissued the book is a flat-out lie and the continued propagation of this message is yellow journalism. This kind of red herring distracts all of us from the important work that needs to be done. Veterans' organizations such as AMVETS are sworn to protect the best interests of our veterans, and arguing over this is a waste of our time.

New veterans are returning from the front lines in the Global War on Terrorism. With these new conflicts come new challenges that VSOs must address, such as PTSD, TBI, women veterans' health, claims-processing issues, employment and re-employment rights, education benefits, transition assistance--the list goes on. In the current Congress, more than 400 individual pieces of legislation have been introduced that could have an effect on the veterans' community and the Obama Administration has proposed significant changes to modernize the VA. This is where our energies must be focused--not on a manufactured issue designed to stir public dissent and sell books.

77 comments:

  1. The danger "Your Life, Your Choices" poses to veterans is that it guides the user to viewing his life through the prism of "quality of life." The user is asked to consider different scenarios and then decide whether his life is "not worth living." This is a wrong approach to take with a vet of any age. Your life is your life and nobody gets to tell you (certainly not the government)whether or not it's "worth living." The fact that YLYC was written by a leading figure in the assisted suicide movement and that the ONLY resource listed under "advance directives" was the Hemlock Society (now called "Compassion and Choices")is also worthy of note. The document was pulled by the VA in 11/07. It reappeared in 7/09. President Obama probably didn't know about it (the VA is a huge bureaucracy)at the time, but now he does.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous,
    Respectfully, your approach is completely backwards. Keeping government out of these critical and deeply personal decisions is exactly why a living will is so essential for all of us, veterans included. As you aptly stated, "Your life is your life and nobody gets to tell you (certainly not the government)whether or not it's 'worth living,'" is precisely why we all should consider these difficult, personal and ethical issues well in advance and discuss them with our spouses, families, doctors, lawyers and trusted friends. "Your Life, Your Choices" is a valuable, free tool to help our veterans do just this. That some have chosen this moment to politicize this text, now in use by the VA for more than a decade,is more than distasteful, it is a distraction from our vital mission as veterans' advocates. I invite you to read, as I did, "Your Life, Your Choices" in its entirety here: http://www.ethics.va.gov/YLYC/YLYC_First_edition_20001001.pdf

    Your comment that the text was written by a leading figure in the assisted suicide movement is also highly inflammatory and misleading. Six doctors and public health specialists originally coauthored the work, and in 2007 an independent panel including a diverse group from the faith based and medical communities, praised "Your Life, Your Choices" and endorsed its use in the Veterans Health Administration.

    Jay Agg
    AMVETS National Communications Director

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for addressing this issue. Republican Veterans should be ashamed of themselves for not coming out against this ridiculous political play.

    Why aren't Veterans in all leadership positions putting a stop to this? ASAP. Do they not care this is an unfair black eye and low blow to the Veterans Administration?

    I am especially disappointed in Senator John McCain, who ran on his veteran record. His silence is deafening.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mr. Agg, as the daughter of a veteran who died last month and the mother of a career-Air Force veteran who is disabled, I thank you for shining the light of truth on those horrible lies that were invented solely to advance an obstructionist agenda to disrupt today's healthcare debate. Those who spread that commpletely distorted information have no respect for our veterans and currently serving military men and women. Again, thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Also, thank you Mr. Galluci and Amvets!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wept all week every time I thought of those four questions OUR disabled vets are being asked to answer about their present 'usefulness' to society. The only point of these questions being there is to subtly--or not so subtly suggest--that since they no longer have 'cash value', and are, in fact, a drain on US financial resources, to 'get on with it.' And we all know what that means.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I believe the VA has done some good things for Vets. I also have seen frist hand how they can be very unworthy of caring for Vets. I believe page 21 is the worst part of this book. It is put in such a way that takes away any hope one might have when dealing with such important choices. The book is not all bad, it does have some good information. Does anyone remember the giant climb in military suicides, If one was thinking of it they should be no where around certain parts of this book. They might get the crazy idea that they are a burden. Where are the standards of right and wrong, oh being lost to Godless doctors who help dictate them. Semper Fi for all the fallen

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am a vet. I take offense to page 25. THAT is the page the VA, obama and everyone else should be ashamed of. It appears the VA has removed it once more from the web site.
    I have a copy of the pdf.
    I have experienced ALL of the things listed there, yet life is worth living. I don't need the government to tell me it's not.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am happy to find this very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content
    ada..

    ReplyDelete
  13. THIS IS A REVISED, I WANT TO SEE THE CLINTON VERSION. IS IT AVAILABLE?

    ReplyDelete
  14. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. 19-1-2011_19_20_6


    videos

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am pleased to read your article, it is great.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I also want to create a frame wall, custom logo design , I have use all posts ,logo design . Thanks for this post .

    ReplyDelete
  17. Interesting article, added his blog to Favorites
    tr

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love projects that uses recycled items...I must ask friends for their used newspapers...too much bad new for me.company logo design

    ReplyDelete
  19. I could tell that we’re on the same interest and obsession. Good to know someone I could share my ideas. Looking forward to know and learn some more from you. I'll be glad to share my own thoughts to you soon. Thank you for sharing such valuable articles. More power!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I been browsing through different sites each day and yours is an interesting one. We may differ in beliefs and interest but I surely could relate in your way of writing. I’m looking forward to read and as well as share some knowledgeable information with you soon.

    loans till payday | android app developers

    ReplyDelete
  21. I will always give a nice thrust look in to you from my bookmark feed. Coffee I don't actually comment and don't like to spend time in typing the comment. But here I have to do this because this deserves a good like.
    car title loan | rim financing

    ReplyDelete
  22. I really admire the author's contribution to this blog. He has done a fabulous job in putting this article together. company logo design

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thanks for the post.
    I am really interesting brushes in these days
    and I found this great help for me.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I could tell that we’re on the same interest and obsession. Good to know someone I could share my ideas. Looking forward to know and learn some more from you. I'll be glad to share my own thoughts to you soon. Thank you for sharing such valuable articles. More power!

    ReplyDelete
  25. You are focused on realizing all you possibly can about this. We're completely satisfied you discovered us.

    On this site, we have introduced collectively an unlimited array of data and sources on this.

    Accountants in London

    ReplyDelete
  26. could share my ideas. Looking forward to know and learn some more from you. I'll be glad to share my own thoughts to you soon

    ReplyDelete
  27. I love projects that uses recycled items...I must ask friends for their used newspapers..

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am pleased to read your article, it is great.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.


    Cuscowilla on lake oconee

    ReplyDelete
  30. This is a really good read for me. I must admit ever so humbly that you are one of the best bloggers on the interneto. Mechanical Engineering Internships
    Nursing Journals Online

    ReplyDelete
  31. He was very well written and easy to understand. Unlike other blogs I’ve read that are not really good. I also found interesting your blogs.


    Houston Electrician

    ReplyDelete
  32. Details are very true and factual, I do really learned something new upon reading this interesting post. Good job! and Thanks!

    http://nuiorganics.gostorego.com/wrapbean-gift.html"<organic merino wool for baby

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.will be referring a lot of friends about this.Keep blogging.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Details are very true and factual, I do really learned something new upon reading this interesting post. Good job! and Thanks! friv

    ReplyDelete
  35. I found so many useful stuff in your website especially this discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  36. seems like the veterans are getting shafted with the whole healthcare system.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Thank you very much great information is also very descriptive

    ReplyDelete
  38. Nice stuff you got, very interesting to read.Well, I do have also in my sleeves, if you have

    time don't forget to visit

    Spring Electrician

    ReplyDelete
  39. I have been a regular visitor of this site and I love reading blogs posted here. They are truly very well written, precise and to the point. wireless broadband internet .

    ReplyDelete
  40. Glad to be visiting your blog again, I have been away since months from the internet. I just love reading these types of top quality blogs. Thanks for sharing. wifi in the usa.

    ReplyDelete
  41. It is very informative. Keep sharing such ideas in the future as well. This was actually what I was looking for, and I am glad to came here! keep posting such a nice post.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thank you very much great information is also very descriptive

    ReplyDelete
  43. A very nice page. I think the effort has passed, we have to thank you:))
    diş

    ReplyDelete
  44. Increase credit score and save money. Your credit score largely determines the lenders available and the interest rate at which they will lend. Fix credit and expand the number of lenders willing to compete for your loan.

    ReplyDelete
  45. "I think people should update themselves with the latest tread of online business promotion via www.fanbullet.com. If anybody is planning to buy facebook fans for his business promotion, he should buy it from www.fanbullet.com. It will surely get fast and accurate outcome shortly. "

    ReplyDelete
  46. Site's character and a great color match .. memeestetigiI will recommend your site to the other platforms.Sacekimi

    ReplyDelete
  47. Cool blog you have, the articles here are very useful. Thanks! :D<a href="http://www.mulink.com.au.au/>IT Support Melbourne</a>

    ReplyDelete
  48. You are focused on realizing all you possibly can about this. We're completely satisfied you discovered us.

    On this site, we have introduced collectively an unlimited array of data and sources on this.

    ReplyDelete
  49. Pretty nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have really enjoyed your blog posts.In any case I’ll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon !… Essay Writing

    ReplyDelete
  50. Instead of eating three large meals, you should eat six or
    seven smaller meals to reduce your belly fat. You need to know
    what these are and stay away from them. Best of all,
    it can be a low impact exercise that will not stress
    out your joints or muscles if done properly.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Yes, these are all wonderful thoughts and I would love to hear about people's personal experience. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thanks for making such a cool post which is really very well written.will be referring a lot of friends about this.Keep blogging.

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hello Everybody,
    My name is Ahmad Asnul Brunei, I contacted Mr Osman Loan Firm for a business loan amount of $250,000, Then i was told about the step of approving my requested loan amount, after taking the risk again because i was so much desperate of setting up a business to my greatest surprise, the loan amount was credited to my bank account within 24 banking hours without any stress of getting my loan. I was surprise because i was first fall a victim of scam! If you are interested of securing any loan amount & you are located in any country, I'll advise you can contact Mr Osman Loan Firm via email osmanloanserves@gmail.com

    LOAN APPLICATION INFORMATION FORM
    First name......
    Middle name.....
    2) Gender:.........
    3) Loan Amount Needed:.........
    4) Loan Duration:.........
    5) Country:.........
    6) Home Address:.........
    7) Mobile Number:.........
    8) Email address..........
    9) Monthly Income:.....................
    10) Occupation:...........................
    11)Which site did you here about us.....................
    Thanks and Best Regards.
    Derek Email osmanloanserves@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete