Veterans Service Agency can help prepare advance directives

JAMESTOWN – The Veterans Service Agency would like to remind veterans and residents about the importance of having Advance Directive documents in place.

“Planning for a day when we may not be able to make decisions for ourselves is not something we wish to think about now when we are healthy and vibrant,” said Chautauqua County Veterans Service Agency Director Doug Diers. “But it is something that should be done as your quality of life can change in an instant.”

An Advance Directive is defined as a legal document that enables an individual to designate another person, called the attorney-in-fact, to act on their behalf, even in the event the individual becomes disabled or incapacitated. It enables medical staff and family members to make decisions for their patients or loved ones when an injury or serious illness may prevent them from making the decision themselves.

An advance directive, or healthcare directive, combines a Living Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, and in some cases a health care proxy. These can either be combined in one document or separated depending on the individual’s wishes.

It is important to know that Living Wills and other advance directives are not just for senior veterans to think about completing. An unexpected end-of-life situation can happen at any age and at any time.

“Preplanning is the key to ensure your wishes are carried out,” said Diers. “By knowing what you want before hand, your family will be less stressed and more prepared when clear thinking may not be first and foremost in a crisis.”

Military veterans can receive copies of the Advance Directive Form (VA 10-0137) at the Veterans Service Agency, or any Veteran Affairs medical facility. The form can also be downloaded directly by visiting www.va.gov/vhapublications.

Non-military veterans are encouraged to contact their private medical staff or attorney to find out more about these life changing documents.

For more information contact the Veterans Service Agency at 661-8255.