Military veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with ALS as our civilian counterparts. Regardless of branch of service, duration of service, or era of service, veterans are confronted with ALS at an alarming rate.
I am a United States Disabled Veteran, diagnosed with ALS in 2009. I will never forget the day my doctor told me that on my final battle ground, my opponent would invariably take my life – I was given only a few years to live. Seven years later, I continue to defy ALS by bringing attention on Capitol Hill to this 100% fatal disease. In many ways, I have dedicated the rest of my life to ALS advocacy and to attracting more allies in this fight.
I knew that if I was to survive, I would have to become stronger, wiser and advocate for others and for myself to survive this disease.
This year, I was joined by a record number of ALS advocates on National ALS Advocacy Day in May. Thanks to our outcry on Capitol Hill that day combined with that of ALS advocates near and far, #ALSAdvocacyDay was trending on Twitter. As a result of our efforts, the ALS Research Program at the Department of Defense received $7.5 million to continue studying why veterans are twice as likely to develop the disease, and the National ALS Registry received an increase in funding by 30 percent!
Progress like this is possible only when we stand together and show our representatives in Washington D.C. the urgent need to treat and care for people battling ALS – veterans, civilians, family members, and survivors.
Every ally adds up.
The ALS community needs more allies to strengthen our fight. Please consider making a generous contribution to The ALS Association to demonstrate your solidarity. You see, we are in this together. And people living with ALS like me need your help today.
Are you a military veteran living with ALS, family member, or surviving spouse? Learn more about benefits and resources available to you at ALSA.org/als-care/veterans .