I'm a Veteran. I don't use the system very often, and have had mixed experiences, to say the least. But it is a far better system in many ways than what most insurance companies provide their customers.
This past weekend, I asked a couple of disabled Veterans with whom I was working on volunteer activities, about the Death Books and the current care they are receiving. They both laughed at Goldberg's notion, remarking that the kinds of counseling they obtain at the VA have never been better.
Talking Points Memo took up Goldberg's hysterical assessment when it came out. Here is what one commenter had to say, regarding the pamphlet's use at the only time it actually was used, during the Bush Administration:
Because when they were running the show, they were all on board to make sure it was published and passed out to all those returning disabled vets hoping they would get the hint they served their purpose and were no longer necessary. Also explains the dilapidated condition of Walter Reed too. They went into the war thinking only about a war victory and all the political gains that could be had. Causalities were expected, but who could have imagined people surviving with such debilitating injuries and then becoming a burden to society for the rest of their natural lives? The repuglicans have only room in their ranks for the victors.
Here's another commenter to the same article, this man a retired paratrooper:
Thank you so very much for linking the booklet. I just took 19 whole minutes to read it through and found the information very straight forward.
Typical of those liars on fixed noise, they have taken statements completely out of context and spun them to reflect their need to frighten people to maintain the status quo.
As a retired soldier, I'm happy to have this booklet at my disposal to help me make the choices I want for MY transition when it comes.
I'm easily more frightened of the lies coming out of fixed noise than I ever was of anything I faced in the 20 years I spent as a paratrooper and sapper. These liars are really dangerous.
And another Veteran:
thanks, OGD. I read the pamphlet, and copied it to my hard drive because it will help me and others I may discuss these matters with. It is a good pamphlet, for veteran, non-veteran, everyone.
I also went beyond and did some more checking on the story, which led me to some pretty interesting documents. 'Til now, I did not know that Congress (in 1990, on a bi-partisan vote in the Senate and with the older Bush in the White House) passed the "Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990", which required that all providers who accepted Medicare or Medicaid funds give their patients information on advance directives. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c101:48:./temp/~c101mZx05o:: The VA, in their "handbook" on "advance directives" - that Chris Wallace misrepresented as a "directive" - says that it took its cues to talk to all of its patients from the PSDA of 1990.
So, this program has been going on now for nineteen years, but suddenly it is all about Obama's eugenics?
Here's another commenter, a hospice nurse:
Jeez, read the whole pamphlet last night. I can't see why they ever stopped using it. I was a hospice nurse for 15 years and decision by indecision results in far more instances of having one's own values overridden than thinking about things clearly in advance. I don't recall republicans having any special immunity to the often heart rending dilemmas that arise at the end of life. What are they thinking? In some ways its more difficult to watch the news now than it was when the crazies were in power.
And, one final commenter observing about the quality of care he has witnessed:
The Veterans Administration hospitals have consistently better health outcomes in all areas. They have the most sophisticated electronic health records of any system in America. Their doctors spend ZERO time memorizing ICD-9 codes or dealing with the gaggles of dishonest morons at insurance companies. They spend 100% of their time treating diabetes, heart failure, mental illness and a host of difficult diseases. What's more, their patient population has the highest rates of substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness of any health system in the country and they STILL get better outcomes for pneumonia, heart attack, drug addiction, and all the rest. They have a closed budgetary loop, only accept evidence-based medicine when prescribing drugs and recommending procedures, and STILL get better results.
They don't care about life? How about the fact that every voicemail in the VA has instructions about how to get help if you are considering suicide? They are proactively cleaning up the problems caused by Bush's Pentagon.
Veterans with private insurance are starting to DROP their private coverage and get care at the VA instead because the CARE IS BETTER with BETTER SERVICE.
Jonah Goldberg, of course, has no idea what it is to serve his country in our armed forces - he didn't. Meanwhile, he rakes in millions in right-wing un-think-tank WATB welfare, while he does nothing for our Veterans and serving military but create lies and distortions for his own sick enrichment.