Please Commend President Bush in His Support of Volunteerism and the Faith-Based and Community Initiative

 

A Message from Dannion Brinkley, Chairman of Compassion in Action - the Twilight Brigade  -- December 13, 2002

 

          President Bush is to be commended for his support of volunteerism.  During the first two years of his presidency, while dealing with the inconceivable terrorist attack on September 11 and the anthrax attack soon after, the President has continued to seek the spiritual balance through the creation of several initiatives including the USA Freedom Corps to facilitate increased volunteerism in America, and the Faith-Based and Community Initiative to level the playing field for faith-based and community organizations in obtaining federal dollars to provide much-needed social services in communities across the nation.

 

I was very proud on December 12, to see President Bush speaking in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the White House Conference on the Faith-Based and Community Initiative - standing in front of a banner heralding “Compassion in Action”!

NOTE:  This is not an endorsement of the other policies of this administration!!

(The speech can be viewed at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/12/20021212-3.v.smil)

 

Five years ago, with a handful of like-minded individuals, I formed, Compassion in Action - The Twilight Brigade, a 501(C)(3) not for profit organization committed to raising society's consciousness about the needs of the dying through community and professional education, advocacy, and service to the terminally ill and their loved ones so that no one need die alone.  In five years we have gone from 4 volunteers to more than 4,900.  We are a national organization, working at the community level - with more than twenty chapters across the United States.  Much of our volunteer service has been in veteran’s facilities - providing trained volunteers to serve our nation’s heroes - our veterans.

 

 During the two years that the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine Policy was meeting, I provided testimony on a number of occasions.  The final report of the White House Commission has been posted at http://www.whccamp.hhs.gov/.  The report was provided to the President in March and a request to print the report and deliver it to legislators was submitted as well.  With all that has been occurring, it is very easy to recognize why the President has yet to publicly acknowledge this report, or to give a position on the importance of complementary and alternative medicine in our health care system.  I am positive with his concerns about the tremendous rise in health care costs and a desire to provide low cost prescription drugs to seniors, that soon he will give this issue his full attention.  As you know, through his Healthier US initiative promoted improved health through lifestyle decisions such as physical activity and diet.  From many podiums the President has spoken about the power and importance of prayer - or spirituality in our lives. The spiritual component is a common element, along with lifestyle choices in many traditional systems of healing.  I encourage you to contact the White House and request that this report be printed and delivered to all members of the United States Congress,  and that the President at a minimum acknowledge publicly the receipt of this report. I have known and trusted the Executive Director, Dr. Stephen Groft for more than 13 years - the work done by this Commission is important deserves to be acknowledged by the President and actively shared with the legislative arm of government.  I feel this is important because several of the recommendations are so important to our veterans.  These recommendations include: 

 

·         Congress should request periodic reports from appropriate Federal departments on coverage of and reimbursement for complementary and alternative (CAM) practices and products for Federal beneficiaries, Medicaid beneficiaries, Federal employees, military personnel, veterans, and eligible family members and retirees, as well as any legislative, regulatory, or programmatic impediments to covering safe and effective CAM interventions.

 

·        The Secretaries of Health and Human Services, Agriculture, Veterans Affairs, and Defense and the Commissioner of the Administration for Children and Families, should evaluate safe and effective CAM practices and products that contribute to wellness and health and determine their applicability to Federal health systems and programs.

 

·        The Federal government and private health organizations should evaluate CAM practices and products that are currently being used for wellness and health promotion to determine their effectiveness and applicability to the management of chronic disease. Funding should be provided for demonstration projects in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and other Federal agencies for those CAM practices and products found to have benefit in the management of chronic disease, end of life such as hospice.

 

·        The Department of Health and Human Services should sponsor the development and evaluation of demonstration projects that integrate the use of safe and effective CAM services as part of the health care programs in hospices and community health centers.

 

In the testimony that I provided to the White House Commission in July 2001, I made the following remarks that I would like to share with you today:

 

“Compassion in Action is a faith-based organization.  We have faith in this country, in its service men and women, and in you the scientists and healers to help find the very best ways - complementary and conventional…I have been exploring complementary therapies since 1975 and was part of the driving forces, along with many others, that led to the singing of the bill that created the Office of Alternative Medicine by then President George Herbert Walker Bush….with 45,583 veterans leaving the world every thirty days, I ask that you focus on the complementary therapies that are the easiest to study and the most obvious in promoting quality of end of life care.  The ones I use are aromatherapy, color therapy, music therapy, and therapeutic touch.   I believe that by focusing our energies and resources on the transitional phase of moving from curative to palliative care and into hospice, all the while incorporating good pain management and compassion in the arena of veterans needs, we can revitalize ourselves, our communities, and the entire field of health care…The most important complementary therapy is the volunteer.  The trained volunteer is a key component of the palliative care and hospice team.  It is often a volunteer that will notice a patient is suffering untreated or has unresolved pain and will notify a nurse.  The volunteer is oftentimes the one sitting at the bedside holding a hand as the terminally ill do a life review.  In veterans facilities there are oftentimes no family and friends to visit and without the Twilight Brigade, many of our country’s heroes would spend their last days alone in bed with the TV blaring….The current method of caring for terminally ill patients will collapse our medical system.  We must find more effective and less expensive treatment options for our aging veteran population…Keep in mind that we are a country founded on a premise of freedom - our veterans fought and were willing to shed their blood and die to preserve that freedom.  A thread that runs through the complementary and alternative medicine movement is the desire for medical freedom. ..I firmly believe that we, humanity, by applying in our highest wisdom, our deepest compassion, our scientific and medical resources and our practical spirituality - can successfully integrate conventional and complementary healing modalities to improve the quality of wellness and healing while promoting cost effective, efficient health care.”     

 

In the creation of the USAFreedom Corps, the President made the following comment, “If people want to fight terror, do something kind for a neighbor…love somebody, mentor a child, stand up to evil with acts of goodness and kindness.”  To contact President Bush, you can fax letters to 202-456-2461

 

 

The quickest way to change the world is to be of service to others. Show that your love can make a difference in the lives of people and thereby someone else's love can make a difference in your life. By each of us doing that and working together we change the world one inner person at a time.

 

If we willfully and consciously act with the intention to be an active participant in transitioning our health care system and improving end of life care, while keeping our promise to veterans - being there for them as the trained armies of compassion  - the Twilight Brigade there is nothing we cannot achieve!

Dannion Brinkley

Chairman of the Board

Compassion in Action - the Twilight Brigade

CIAChairman@aol.com


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