Wednesday, August 26, 2009

AMVETS takes aim at healthcare lie

As if the non-existent "death panels" weren't enough to muddy the healthcare debate, certain "someones" decided to escalate the fear-mongering by claiming President Obama had developed a "death book" for our veterans.

As a daughter of a veteran and the mother of a disabled Air Force veteran, I was heartened this week to see AMVETS step up to set the record straight.

On Tuesday, August 25, American Veteran's Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS, posted a response to those news pundits bashing the VA's end-of-life planning and care manual. Titled VA's "Your Life, Your Choices" a non-issue for veterans, Ryan Gallucci, AMVETS National Media Specialist, magazine contributor and Army veteran, tackles the misinformation head-on:

"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.

Mr. Gallucci notes where the misinformation started:

"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."

Gallucci continues:
"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."

Additionally, Gallucci points out that:
"...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."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Mr. Gallucci's essay also includes a link to the latest version of "Your Life, Your Choices".

hat tip to Mudflatter "Say NO to Palin in Politics" for initially contacting AMVETS about this issue.


  1. hey justafarmer, i also am the daughter of a vet (and sister, sister-n-law twice). I'm pretty mad at how these fires keep getting set everywhere, but glad a group like amvet has stepped up to put this one out. I will be writing to all the usual suspects on this, but do you have any other ideas? I really think think the misinformation is always more widespread than the debunking of it. Great information, Justa! thanks..lisa

  2. Lisa,
    Write a letter to the editor to all of your local newspapers and reference the AMVET article!
    Pass the article on to your local veterans organizations and any other groups in your area.
    Spread the word!

  3. I have and continue to do just that. Also, with a large population of vets and a va hospital in my area, there is a lot to do.
    Thanks, LIsa