War vet's dying wish: 'I don't want to be spoon fed'
VIETNAM veteran Rod Gear knows all about the dark side of life.
Having lived through the harrowing experience of war, the Bundaberg man has a deeper appreciation than most.
On Friday, Mr Gear joined about 60 other people at the region's first Dying with Dignity meeting.
It was a big turnout, mainly of people in their 50s and older who wanted to learn more about a movement that is lobbying for the introduction of euthanasia.
Rod, 66, said he'd seen many of his former vet mates suffer terriby in recent years.
"I've had to watch as quite a few of my mates have died and many others are struggling with their health," Rod said.
He said over the years he's put down a number of animals whose quality of life had deteriorated with old age.
This compassionate approach should be an option for people.
Rod has the early stages of Parkinson's and knows there are tough times ahead as the disease advances.
He has spoken openly with his family about his thoughts on euthanasia.
He said when he got to a stage where he could no longer look after himself, it was time to go.
"I don't want someone having to spoon feed me," Rod said.
"I'm a long way from going anywhere yet. But it should be an option.
"What they are doing here is right."
He said the local politicians should take a position on the sensitive issue.
He wants to see them go to the Bundaberg Hospital and meet people who are suffering.
"There are some people who can't scratch themselves...would you not want to help?" Rod said.
"People should be able to talk about this and not be shouted down."
While he is pro-euthanasia he believes strict guidelines need to be in place, including medical assessments that a condition can't be reversed.
Meanwhile, Bundaberg's Dying with Dignity crusader Phyllis Wagner is looking to organise a big morning tea for the Queensland Cancer Council as the fledgling group moves to spread its euthanasia message.
About 60 people attended the Bundaberg/Burnett group's first meeting on Friday at Take the Plunge Cafe.
Buoyed by the turnout and media attention the group is getting, Ms Wagner is pushing forward.
The group will meet again next month and as well as the big morning tea, Ms Wagner liked a proposal from one of the attendees to go to the region's seniors villages with their educative information.
Another suggestion was to promote the message on electronic signs throughout the region.
At Friday's meeting, attendees heard from a solicitor about the current legal situation and also about the group's intentions.
Asked where things were at, Ms Wagner, who speaks with a heavy US accent, said: "We have a saying in baseball, that you've made it to first base. Well we're not even there yet.
"We are the only state that has not discussed this on the floor in parliament."
She said it was crucial people voiced their feelings to local MPs.
Ms Wagner said everyone who attended Friday's meeting had a story to tell that had motivated them to head along.