Americans are uncomfortable these days with end-of life discussions especially when they are coming from our government. Now there is an end of life planning guide provided to veterans called ‘Your Life Your Choices’ — also called the VA Death Book — that is causing heartburn for Barack Obama’s administration. Read more below, see photo and video.
Are veterans being urged to die? Are they being told they are a burden to society? Apparently, a guide for veterans’ end-of-life care called “Your Life Your Choices,” was suspended under the Bush administration for just those very concerns. Some even went so far as to call this guide “a death book” for vets! But, now, this veterans’ end of life guide been revived and is promoted throughout the VA’s vast network of hospitals and nursing homes by the current Department of Veterans Affairs. With ‘death panels’ still a fresh memory, this end of life planning guide is once again raising a lot of questions with the potential of congressional hearings in the works.
The author of “Your Life Your Choices” is Dr. Robert Pearlman, a man who in 1996 advocated for physician-assisted suicide in Vacco v. Quill before the U.S. Supreme Court and is known for his support of health-care rationing.
According to Jim Towey, the former director of the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives under President Bush, the 52-page booklet end of life planning document written by Dr. Pearlman makes injured veterans feel like a burden, encourages the severely injured to die and shouldn’t be anywhere near our veterans — especially those coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with catastrophic injuries.
Towey says that “Your Life Your Choices” presents end-of-life choices in a way aimed at steering users toward predetermined conclusions, much like a political “push poll” would do. For example, a worksheet on page 21 of the so-called “death book for vets” lists various scenarios and asks users to then decide whether their own life would be “not worth living.”
Some of the physical circumstances listed in the vet’s end of life guide include ones that are quite common among our elderly and disabled such as: living in a nursing home, being in a wheelchair and not being able to “shake the blues.”
And get this: there is a section which provocatively asks, “Have you ever heard anyone say, ‘If I’m a vegetable, pull the plug’?” I think I may have even said that myself but I would kill my family if they actually did it!
And there are also some lovely guilt-inducing scenarios such as “I can no longer contribute to my family’s well being,” “I am a severe financial burden on my family” and that heartwarming one of “my situation causes severe emotional burden for my family.”
But Tammy Duckworth, an injured veteran of Iraq herself and the assistant secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Obama’s administration, said the “Your Life Your Choices”
death book for vets end of life planning guide is still under revision — as stated in a disclaimer on the official Web site — and has not officially been “reinstated.” She calls this veteran’s end of life guide one of many options for injured veterans and “simply a tool.”
“This ultimately is about the … health care for veterans,” Duckworth said
Hmm. This sounds so familiar. Where have we heard all of this before?
The bottom line is this: Yes, there is an undeniable slippery slope factor here. But there are no shortages of end-of-life care literature available from the private sector as well as government agencies. You can find the veteran’s end-of-life guide “Your Life Your Choices” here. Death book for Vets? Read the booklet yourself, and make up your own mind. I’ve made up mine.
Veteran’s End of Life Guide: ‘Your Life Your Choices’ Death Book for Vets? Video