A few weeks ago, studies found that NFL players are at greater risk of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). But how many of us know that a much, much larger segment of our population – military veterans - also is at greater risk of Lou Gehrig’s Disease?
Studies have shown that military veterans are about twice as likely to die from ALS as the general public. It does not matter when or where they served in the military – home or abroad, during peace or war, from World War I to Afghanistan. Unfortunately for these heroes and everyone else in the world who is living with ALS, there is no treatment. There is no cure. They will die from the disease in an average of just two to five years.
We do not know what causes ALS in veterans or NFL players. Is it head trauma? Excessive physical activity? Those are potential risk factors. But we do know that raising awareness of the risk faced by our veterans not only can let these heroes know about the significant Veterans Administration benefits that are available, but can also help us find the cause, treatment, and cure for this horrific disease.
I encourage your readers to visit the Wall of Honor at www.alsa.org. There, people can read the stories and see the faces of hundreds of veterans living with ALS and those who already have been lost to the disease. There, they can see that ALS does not simply strike the stars we watch on TV every Sunday, but also our family members, friends, and neighbors who have served in the military – our heroes.