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Why Veterans Need To Consider Advance Directives


Veterans who have fought hard to protect their country are given many benefits. The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) allows veterans to dictate the type of medical care they receive. They usually have the final say — except when they don’t.

Sometimes there are situations in which a veteran cannot make their wishes known. They may become mentally disabled or incapacitated in some way. So what happens when they need health care? Who decides what type of care the veteran will receive?

Family members may determine the type of care the veteran receives. If the veteran becomes brain dead, for example, then a close family member may try to keep the veteran alive for as long as possible, even if they are in a vegetative state. The veteran, on the other hand, may not want life-saving measures in these situations. So how can their wishes be known?

This is where an advanced directive comes in. Also known as living wills, these legal documents inform healthcare providers of a patient’s wishes for medical treatment if they cannot communicate. Doctors encourage all veterans to make an advance directive now rather than later — when it may be too late.

Many veterans don’t feel comfortable talking about this topic, though. It can be a difficult conversation, as not many people like discussing topics such as death or catastrophic injuries.  Plus, the advance directive forms can seem intimidating to many people.

However, veterans are encouraged to have conversations about advance directives with family members, especially the ones they want to select as their health care powers of attorney. The power of attorney is the person who the veteran trusts to ensure their wishes regarding healthcare are carried out in the event of incapacitation. Having the discussion now takes a load off family members and reduces stress should a medical event occur.

Veterans have a couple options if they need help with the process. The National Advance Care Planning Program provides a comfortable space for veterans, families, and caregivers to discuss advance care planning.

Veterans can also get help from a Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT) social worker. These social workers provide timely support to veterans so that they can establish important planning documents in a timely manner. They work remotely, providing virtual support to veterans all over the country. They provide phone and telehealth coverage, as well as virtual social work activities. These social workers can also help veterans apply for VA benefits or help them recover from a medical procedure.

Learn More About Veterans Benefits

Advance directives are legal documents that can help ensure you get the health care you desire if you become incapacitated. Make sure to have one in place today.

Contact a White Plains veterans disability benefits lawyer from The Law Office of Michael Lawrence Varon for help with your benefits. We are just one of many resources that can help. To schedule a free consultation, call 914-294-2145 or fill out the online form.



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