Contact:
Carrie Martin Munk
The ALS Association
(571) 319-3047
cmunk@alsa-national.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The ALS Association Honors Veterans with Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Military Veterans Approximately Twice as Likely to Die from ALS as General Public

Washington, D.C. (November 1, 2013)—Military veterans are approximately twice as likely to die from Lou Gehrig’s Disease as those in the general population. The reason for the disparity remains unknown. This Veterans Day, The ALS Association honors veterans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, many of whom continue their legacy of courage by raising awareness about the disease and the ongoing need for research, treatments, equipment and services. Dave Ihde, 58, of Pennsylvania, is one such veteran. “I try to spread awareness to anybody who is interested,” he writes.

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.

“First you cry, then you decide to fight or sit around and wait to die,” Ihde writes of receiving a diagnosis of ALS. “I decided to fight.”

The ALS Association is proud to be a partner to veterans in that fight. ALS is classified as a service connected disease, and 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. The ALS Association helps veterans with ALS learn about and receive these benefits and is actively engaged in research to provide answers, new treatments, and one day a cure for people with ALS.

“Our military veterans dedicated their lives to defending us,” said Jane H. Gilbert, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “We need to continue to fight for them, just as they fought for us.”

Again this year, The Association will recognize veterans on its Wall of Honor at www.alsa.org/advocacy/veterans. The Wall of Honor features stories and photos of veterans who have battled ALS, as well as those courageously fighting the disease today.

The Wall of Honor currently profiles more than 250 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. 

The ALS Association encourages the public to visit the Wall of Honor to see the faces of our military heroes, read about their military service, and learn about their fight against ALS.

The Association invites all veterans with ALS, their families and survivors to visit the site and share their own stories of courage.

“The stories on the Wall of Honor give us a personal, moving glimpse into the daily struggles of veterans living with this terrible disease. We hope that they will raise awareness of the devastating effect that ALS has on the lives of our military veterans and, as a result, help us make more resources available to them in their fight against ALS,” said Gilbert.

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/als-care/veterans.   

Media organizations wishing to speak with veterans living with ALS are encouraged to contact Carrie Munk at cmunk@alsa-national.org.

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.

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