Posted by Meg | Posted in Administration, Big Issues, Editorial, Health-Care, Must See, Obama, Socialism, Socialized Medicine, Veterans | Posted on 25-08-2009
Word surfaced over this past weekend about a book that’s recently been added to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ list of publications to be distributed to veterans, despite the fact it was deliberately removed several years ago due to material that the leaders of the VA deemed objectionable. Now that we have a new administration in town, apparently even though they haven’t seen fit to fill more than half of the vacant presidential appointments, someone thought it urgent that this book be reinstated. Someone has great priorities.
If you haven’t yet seen the book, you need to read it. Then you might understand why I’m a bit miffed about this.
The book is called ‘Your Life, Your Choices’ – a title which seems strangely apt given the recent debate over government-run health care. While normally such a title should be appealing to me, the content is absolutely disgusting, in my opinion. The reason for my disgust?
It’s an end of life planning counseling book written by Dr. Robert Pearlman, a major proponent of assisted suicide. In fact, Dr. Pearlman has testified repeatedly in multiple court cases wherein he advocated for physician-assisted suicide.
Brilliant. Just who I’d want to get compassionate, sensitive, and humane guidance from about how to make the most out of my life and maintain my dignity, no matter what physical condition I might find myself in.
I have to admit, I was not able to read the entire book. It was just too emotional for me, and I’ll explain why in a minute. But first, I want to give you a sampling of what the book has to offer: a checklist of ways to tell if your life has devolved to the point where you might want to consider that maybe it’s just not worth living anymore. At least, according to Dr. Pearlman.
You know what I noticed first? The options. Nowhere is there an option where you can provide an answer that life is more than just “difficult, but acceptable”, but actually valid, enjoyable, dignified, engaging, and valued. That tells you a helluva lot, doesn’t it? What do you think that says to the veteran who’s reading it?
Let me tell you the second thing I noticed. Out of the 18 direct questions, I qualify for at least 11 of them, maybe 12. According to this book, I’d be a more than valid candidate for assisted-suicide. According to them, my life – at best – is “difficult, but acceptable”.
I’m only 24 years old.
Does that mean my life isn’t worth living? Does that mean my life isn’t dignified? Does that mean my life is “difficult, but acceptable”, or “worth living, but just barely”? Does that mean as a human being, I’m not to be valued as much as someone with an able body? Does that mean that I should just roll over and die because life didn’t turn out the way I thought it would?
I’m sorry, but I refuse to see if that way. I find it disgusting and so incredibly offensive that this book doesn’t even begin to recognize the value of every life, able, disabled, or otherwise. I’ve been seriously ill for over half of my life, and yet I’ve been able to contribute in ways most able-bodied people never do. Yet according to the words of this booklet, handed out to veterans by the VA, I rate just barely beyond “acceptable”.
I find this so far beyond deplorable that I don’t have words adequate enough to express my outrage. Some are calling this a “death book.” I certainly wouldn’t go that far or be that trite about it. But I would call it an absolutely appalling example of outright prejudice against the disabled. To devalue any human being should be outrageous to all of us. Because the minute we can devalue someone is the minute we can devalue anyone.
Veterans don’t need to be told that their lives are only barely acceptable if they’ve been injured or suddenly find themselves severely ill. They need to be encouraged, uplifted, loved, and reminded that they can overcome the challenges and obstacles they face, ultimately becoming stronger in ways they may not have previously imagined. I know I have. Sure, life isn’t always easy, but is it ever easy for anyone? Sure, I’ve had to deal with a lot of pain. But I’ve learned and grown as a person because of it. Those veterans can too.
But they won’t, if they’re told by our government that they can’t, that their lives are now worthless, and that they might as well just give up. We can’t devalue them this way, we can’t disrespect their humanity, we can’t just dismiss them. Just like we shouldn’t dismiss anyone with a disability, whether seen or unseen. We’re all human, we’re all born with different abilities, and throughout our lives, those abilities will surely change and transform. But we are all still human and we are all still deserving of the same rights, respect, and validation. How dare the VA even begin to say otherwise.
One final thought; this is how our government is treating our veterans’, how they’re influencing their health care decisions. If that’s how the heroes among us are treated, how would they treat the rest of us if they were in charge of our health care decisions? How much do you want to bet we’d all be reading a book like this one?
Are you willing to bet your life? It is, after all, your life, and your choice. At least, it is for now. I, for one, would like to keep it that way.
If you’d like to download and read the entire booklet, you can read it here on the official Department of Veterans Affairs website. Yup, even though the VA is saying it’s not an official VA document, it’s still available on their website, and the website says otherwise. It says it was created specifically for the VA via a generous grant of your tax dollars. Although it is allegedly under revision, it’s still being handed out in print in its current form to veterans.
And just in case it suddenly disappears, I’ve archived a copy here.