November 10, 2013 in Letters, Opinion

ALS burying veterans

 

The press has done a very good job of reporting about the challenges our veterans face. We all have read or seen stories about our wounded warriors, about traumatic brain injury, about veterans suffering from depression and other serious mental health issues, and about those who have lost limbs or endure other physical hardships.

These are serious issues that deserve our attention, especially on Veterans Day. What also deserves our attention, but which gets much less press, is the fact that military veterans are twice as likely to develop – and die from – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, as those who have not served in the military.

Yes, studies show that the disease that took the life of baseball legend Lou Gehrig is striking our military heroes at an alarming rate. It doesn’t matter when or where they served in the military, home or abroad, peace or war, from World War I to Afghanistan. Those who served are at greater risk.

ALS is horrific. Worse than your worst nightmare. It robs people of the ability to move, trapping them inside a body they no longer can control. People describe it as being buried alive. There is no treatment. No cure. Only death in an average of two to five years.

So as the press calls attention to our military heroes on Veterans Day, I hope they remember those heroes who are fighting for their lives against ALS. I encourage Spokesman-Review readers to visit the Wall of Honor at www.alsa.org. There they will see the faces and read the stories of the military heroes who are fighting ALS and those who have been lost to the disease. Their stories of courage are worth your attention this Veterans Day.

Jerry Baltzell, Lt Col, USAF/ANG (ret.)

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