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American Legion questions "death book"

“End of life” pamphlet lacks sensitivity

The national commander of The American Legion says the so-called "death book" posted on the VA Web site may be well-intentioned, but needs to be reconsidered.

"We share a mission with the VA to work always in the best interests of our military veterans," said Past National Commander David K. Rehbein, "and we are certain that the Department of Veterans Affairs made this controversial publication available with the best of intentions.

"However," Rehbein continued, "elements of the booklet 'Your Life, Your Choices' – in our opinion – can be easily misconstrued and appear insensitive. Somewhat like the improperly vetted Department of Homeland Security report to which we objected strongly some months ago, the release of this publication demonstrates poor planning, no matter how well-intentioned it was."

The controversial booklet, "Your Life, Your Choices" has been dubbed "the death book" by some commentators due to its subject matter and method of presentation in advising veterans on end-of-life decision-making. "While The American Legion does not believe this publication is in any way designed to influence veterans to end their lives prematurely," said Rehbein, "we can understand how some might interpret it that way, At best, it is an awkward attempt to help."

"Your Life, Your Choices" is not an official VA publication, but it has been made available in printed and electronic formats.

Rehbein commented on it in Louisville, Ky., the site of the Legion's 91st National Convention.

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