June Leffler Published

Beckley VA Asks Veterans To Consider End Of Life Decisions


Death can be a hard thing to talk about, but social workers say it’s essential to make sure one’s medical and financial wishes are understood before it’s too late.

A national effort called Health Care Decision Day (April 16) asks adults to consider what medical interventions they would be comfortable with at the end of their life. It can bring up tough questions like “How will I manage the pain?” and “Who will speak for me when I can’t?”

The VA hospital in Beckley is hosting workshops on the topic this week.

“We really honor and respect our veterans input and their wishes as it is related to their own health care. So the idea is to empower our veterans to be their own decision maker,” said Anessa Sherrod, a social worker at the VA.

Legal Aid of West Virginia is offering legal and financial planning as well. Veterans that can’t attend can get in touch with their VA case worker.

Sherrod says veterans should walk away either ready to have these tough conversations with their children, spouse or doctor. Some might even be ready to start writing up legal documents, like a medical power of attorney or an advanced care directive. Workbooks are available that can get someone thinking about their medical and personal values as it relates to end of life care.

“Anyone 18 and up really needs to be taking this into consideration,” Sherrod said. “It’s not necessarily about someone that is sick, and is in the end stage of life, so to speak. But even a healthy individual may want to be able to have these conversations with their loved ones, because you don’t know what will happen.”

Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting with support from Charleston Area Medical Center and Marshall Health.