Veteran’s news: ALS in veterans
Lately you may have seen the “Ice Bucket Challenge” on social media or on the news. This challenge began as a way to raise both money and awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) so I thought it was an appropriate time to re-run an article I wrote in September 2012 and remind veterans and survivors that ALS is a service-connected disease.
ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS patients eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Sadly, this disease is fatal. The cause of ALS is unknown and there is no effective treatment.
Statistics confirm that ALS strikes U.S. military veterans more frequently than it does the general population. One study conducted in 2005 found that veterans, regardless of when they served, are 60% more likely to contract ALS than people who were not in the military. Even among veterans, however, some groups are more prone to get the disease than others. In particular, those who served in the first Gulf War, August 1990 to February 1991, are nearly twice as likely to contract ALS as veterans of other conflicts.
Effective September 23, 2008, the VA Secretary established ALS as a presumptive compensable illness for all veterans who served at least 90 days of continuous active service regardless of when or where they served. There is also Dependency Indemnity Compensation for survivors of veterans who die or have died of this disease.
INPORTANT NOTE: Our office is closed Monday, September 22-Friday, September 26 for required semi-annual training. We will be back in the office on Monday, September 29. We regret any inconvenience this may cause.
Tammy Walters can be reached at (715) 369-6127 or firstname.lastname@example.org