Military Veterans Twice as Likely to Die From ALS as General Public
WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- For unknown reasons, people who have served in the military are twice as likely to die from Lou Gehrig's Disease as those in the general population. This Veterans Day, The ALS Association is again honoring veterans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on its Wall of Honor at www.alsa.org/WallofHonor, which features stories and photos of veterans who waged and are waging tremendous battles against the disease.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure, and only one drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) modestly extends survival.
"Today, veterans living with ALS are fighting a war in which they have no way to defend themselves," said Jane H. Gilbert, President and CEO of The ALS Association. "People who served in the military are being unfairly targeted by this devastating disease, and the reason for this disparity is still unknown."
The ALS Association encourages the public to visit the Wall of Honor and see the faces of military heroes with ALS and read about their service and their fight against this horrific disease. The Association also invites veterans with ALS, their families and survivors to visit the site and share their own stories of courage.
The Wall of Honor currently profiles nearly 200 veterans with ALS from every branch of the military and almost every state in the country. It includes veterans living with ALS and those lost to the disease as well as veterans who served in nearly every era, from before World War II to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We hope these impactful stories will help raise awareness so that more and more resources become available to help in the fight against ALS," Gilbert continued. "The ALS Association will continue to advocate with elected officials and government agencies to ensure veterans with ALS and their families have timely access to vital care and benefits and also to increase funding and advance policies that accelerate the search for the cause, treatment and a cure."
This November, The ALS Association also wants to raise awareness around the fact that ALS is classified as a service-connected disease and that veterans living with Lou Gehrig's Disease—and their survivors—are eligible for significant health and disability benefits to help manage the medical and financial burdens related to the disease.
Any veteran diagnosed with ALS who has served at least 90 continuous days on active duty is eligible for benefits, regardless of when or where a veteran served in the military and regardless when he or she was diagnosed. Survivors of veterans with ALS also are eligible for benefits, even if their loved one passed away years or even decades ago.
Visit The ALS Association's Wall of Honor today at www.alsa.org/WallofHonor. To learn more about the connection between ALS and military service as well as the benefits that are available to veterans with ALS and their survivors, please visit: www.alsa.org/veterans.
About The ALS Association
The ALS Association is the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease on every front. By leading the way in global research, providing assistance for people with ALS through a nationwide network of chapters, coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers, and fostering government partnerships, The Association builds hope and enhances quality of life while aggressively searching for new treatments and a cure. For more information about The ALS Association, visit our website at www.alsa.org.
SOURCE The ALS Association