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August 24, 2009
Shut Up and DieBy Greyhawk
We mentioned the document folks have taken to calling the the "VA Death Book" (the term originated with a Wall Street Journal headline) here previously. At the time the document (and the WSJ piece describing it) seemed to be receiving surprisingly little attention, but apparently Sarah Palin has changed all that by posting a mention of it to her FaceBook page.
Which may have prompted a pair of somewhat conflicting responses from the VA. One, this addition to the online version of the pamphlet:
Note - The following is a 1997 publication that was produced under VA IIR Grant No. 94-050, "Development of an Advance Care Planning Workbook," 4/01/95 - 3/31/97. The document is currently undergoing revision for release in VA. The revised version will be available soon.
And two, a defense of the document from Tammy Duckworth:
In the meantime, the Huffington Post assured readers that "the so-called "death book" contains the same advance-care planning required of all health care organizations under federal law".
Towey had described the author of the VA pamphlet in his WSJ piece:
Who is the primary author of this workbook? Dr. Robert Pearlman, chief of ethics evaluation for the center, 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.So it seems that Towey's bio is in turn a valid part of this discussion.
At the Democrat's VetVoice blog, another swift response: "Jim Towey is one sick mother fucker" and "nothing more than a Sarah Palin wannabe. Except not as smart." And in conclusion, "When Veterans want advice on their care from someone who has never served in the military, nor received care from the Veterans' Health Administration, we'll call you."
I believe I've mentioned here before that folks who claim to Speak for ALL Veterans should be viewed with extreme skepticism, at best. However, I'm fairly certain most of us can indeed make decisions without the assistance of the government and actually will consider advice from non-veterans (contrary to popular beliefs the "shut up, chickenhawk" smear isn't that widely accepted or appreciated), and I suspect few would publicly denounce either Towey or Pearlman in those terms.
Crooks and Liars concurs with VoteVets - at least with the Sarah Palin comparison - and adds that "Towey could benefit financially if the Veteran's Administration drops the current material "Your life, Your choices" used for end-of-life consultations. Towey sells his own materials that compete with documentation currently in use."
On the other side of the Debate, Jonah Goldberg:
I just watched Tammy Duckworth try her best to defend the V.A. "death book" on Fox News Sunday. The Iraq War veteran was severely wounded as an army aviator, losing both her legs, and is currently an assistant secretary at the V.A. The administration sent her out to defend the book and to push back against Jim Towey, who first raised the issue. While she admirably held her own, her talking points were often very, very lame (she kept insinuating that Towey's bitter his $5 book isn't free of charge to vets). The upshot was she defended this irretrievably gross book on the merits and attacked the messenger to boot. And here's the thing: The death book is doomed, doomed. It's obvious Obama will pull the thing, because it's the right thing to do and because it's a political no-brainer while he's trying to shake off the "death panel" albatross. So they sent out Duckworth to stake a position that will be reversed, making her look like a fool. Just give it time.
That prompts this response from firedoglake: "Here is a suggestion for Jonah Goldberg that is shorter than Towey's book and $5 cheaper: You have failed, please die."
Update/exit poll: Was Goldberg gutsy or foolish for saying Duckworth's "talking points were often very, very lame"?
Posted by Greyhawk / August 24, 2009 12:11 PM | Permalink
A pair of stories that highlight the difference between "an accident" and "a mistake". The first:CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Former Air Force Reservist Gale Reid received a letter from the Veterans Affairs Department that told her she had Lou Gehrig's di... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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