January 4, 2009

Positivity: Bush, Cheney Comforted Troops Privately

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 10:56 am

From Washington:

Monday, December 22, 2008

For much of the past seven years, President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have waged a clandestine operation inside the White House. It has involved thousands of military personnel, private presidential letters and meetings that were kept off their public calendars or sometimes left the news media in the dark.

Their mission: to comfort the families of soldiers who died fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and to lift the spirits of those wounded in the service of their country.

On Monday, the president is set to make a more common public trip – with reporters in tow – to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, home to many of the wounded and a symbol of controversy earlier in his presidency over the quality of care the veterans were receiving.

But the size and scope of Mr. Bush’s and Mr. Cheney’s private endeavors to meet with wounded soliders and families of the fallen far exceed anything that has been witnessed publicly, according to interviews with more than a dozen officials familiar with the effort.

“People say, ‘Why would you do that?’” the president said in an Oval Office interview with The Washington Times on Friday. “And the answer is: This is my duty. The president is commander in chief, but the president is often comforter in chief, as well. It is my duty to be – to try to comfort as best as I humanly can a loved one who is in anguish.”

Mr. Bush, for instance, has sent personal letters to the families of every one of the more than 4,000 troops who have died in the two wars, an enormous personal effort that consumed hours of his time and escaped public notice. The task, along with meeting family members of troops killed in action, has been so wrenching – balancing the anger, grief and pride of families coping with the loss symbolized by a flag-draped coffin – that the president often leaned on his wife, Laura, for emotional support.

“I lean on the Almighty and Laura,” Mr. Bush said in the interview. “She has been very reassuring, very calming.”

Mr. Bush also has met privately with more than 500 families of troops killed in action and with more than 950 wounded veterans, according to White House spokesman Carlton Carroll. Many of those meetings were outside the presence of the news media at the White House or at private sessions during official travel stops, officials said.

The first lady said those private visits, many of which she also attended, took a heavy emotional toll, not just on the president, but on her as well.

“It is just so unbelievably emotional to be with the families, for everybody involved. I mean for us and for them and for everyone,” she said in a telephone interview with The Times on Saturday. “I’m very aware of how emotional it is and how draining it is for the president and for me, too. Both of us. But I think we do support each other, not by saying anything so much, but just by the comfort of each other’s presence, both when we are with the families and then afterward when we are alone.”

Mr. Cheney similarly has hosted numerous events, even sneaked away from the White House or his Naval Observatory home to meet troops at hospitals or elsewhere without a hint to the news media.

For instance, Mr. Cheney flew to North Carolina late last month and met with 500 special-operations soldiers for three hours on a Saturday night at a golf resort. The event was so secretive that the local newspaper didn’t even learn about it until three days after it happened.

Mr. Cheney and his wife, Lynne, also have hosted more than a half-dozen barbecues at their Naval Observatory home for wounded troops recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed and their spouses and children.

The vice president said Mr. Bush “feels a very special obligation to those who he has to send in harm’s way on behalf of the nation, and a very special obligation to their families, especially the families of those who don’t come home again.” …..

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Positivity: U.S. announces new conscience protection rules for medical workers and institutions

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:45 am

From Washington, via the Catholic News Agency:

Washington DC, Dec 19, 2008 / 09:01 pm

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Thursday issued a final regulation explicitly clarifying the rights of health care providers to decline participation in services to which they object in conscience. The rule will help protect those individuals and institutions in the medical field who object to abortion.

An HHS press release reported that several statutes have been enacted by Congress to “safeguard the freedom of health care providers to practice according to their conscience.”

“The new regulation will increase awareness of and compliance with these laws,” it continued.

“Doctors and other health care providers should not be forced to choose between good professional standing and violating their conscience,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “This rule protects the right of medical providers to care for their patients in accord with their conscience.”

“Many health care providers routinely face pressure to change their medical practice – often in direct opposition to their personal convictions,” said HHS Assistant Secretary of Health, Admiral Joxel Garcia, M.D. “During my practice as an OB-GYN, I witnessed this first-hand. Health care providers shouldn’t have to check their consciences at the hospital door.”

According to the HHS press release, the final rule clarifies that non-discrimination protections apply to institutional health care providers as well as individuals who work for recipients of HHS funds. Under the rule recipients of certain HHS funds will be required to certify their compliance with conscience protection laws.

The HHS Office for Civil Rights has been designated as the entity to receive violation complaints. If a state or local government or entity is in violation of the statutes, HHS officials may assist them in becoming compliant. If such efforts fail, the entity may be penalized by termination of funding and may be required to return funding already received.

The HHS also encourages providers to disclose to patients what services they do not provide.

Describing remarks received concerning the proposal, the HHS press release said “the comments consistently bore out the necessity of the regulation to implement the statutes enacted by Congress.”

“Many commenters exhibited a lack of understanding of these laws. Others articulated a general knowledge that conscience protections exist for providers, but the scope of these protections was not always widely understood. Still other comments came from health care workers relating personal experiences of what they perceived to be discrimination on the basis of their personal or religious beliefs.”

Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association (CMA), on Thursday welcomed the regulation, saying it will “protect patients and patient access to physicians who adhere to life-affirming ethical standards.”

“By protecting physicians and other healthcare professionals who still adhere to the Hippocratic Oath, the Judeo-Christian Scriptures and other objective standards of medical ethics, this regulation serves to protect patients who want access to conscientious and compassionate care from life-affirming physicians,” he continued, adding “this regulation insures that physicians and others won’t be run out of the profession for upholding those standards.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.