Compassion in Action

                             The Twilight Brigade

Dannion Brinkley, Compassion in Action Chairman Calls for Continued Focus on Improving End of Life Care

             November 19, 2001 (Los Angeles, CA)  In recognition of National Hospice Month, Dannion Brinkley, Chairman of the Board of Compassion in Action calls for a continued focus on improving end of life care.  The hospice approach to care for the terminally ill – a team approach with a particular emphasis on palliative care – has brought about great improvement in how we deal with death in America.  However, with over 6,000 people a day dying in this country, - 1,200 of those being World War II veterans, we have much more to do to improve their last days. 


            “I applaud Attorney General John Ashcroft for his desire to see end of life care improved” Brinkley stated, “ and for his concern about legalizing euthanasia in the United States.  In 24 years in hospice and over 9,500 hours at the bedside of veterans and civilians, I have seen three major reasons why people want to take their own life: (1) improper pain management, (2) loss of dignity and control over their lives, and (3) the burden they feel their illness is creating for family members.  All three of these can create undue stress and depression for all concerned.   That is why Compassion in Action – the Twilight Brigade  (whose mission is that no one need die alone) is committed to training people to deal with end of life care issues, particularly for our veterans.  In the last four years since we were founded, we have trained over 4,000 volunteers.  These volunteers serve at the bedside of veterans and in communities.  With the combination of religions, institutions, and the medical establishment, our approach to end of life care has been haphazard at best.  With so many different approaches and with the lack of debate, due mostly to fear, we have a long way to go in dealing with end of life the right way.  The current approach to pain management leaves a lot to be desired.  Without a physical, mental, and spiritual approach, we will never find the right combination to eliminate the unnecessary suffering of the dying.  We are seeing what research is showing that through a comprehensive approach – the integration of complementary therapies such as music therapy, acupuncture, guided imagery, and therapeutic touch combined with conventional therapies – the quality of end of life care can be improved for patients and their families. ”


“As the Chairman of a national non-profit foundation focused on improving end of life care, it is not my place to take sides for or against Americans who are so desperate during the dying process that they want to choose their own time of death.” Brinkley stated, “but I am for doing my best to make sure someone is there who values that every breath they breathe on this earth counts and to comfort them and their family through these difficult times.  I would like to leave you with one of the most common statements I hear from veterans as they face the last days of their life – ‘Do you think I will be remembered for what I went through? And does anyone really care?’  As we approach the first Thanksgiving since the tragedies of September 11, we have soldiers in harm’s way, think of them – pray for them.  And go visit a veteran - someone who was there to protect us when we needed them, and who we must be there for now that they need us.  Please go visit a veteran though this holiday season. ”

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