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Veterans at Higher Risk for Lou Gerhig's Disease

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posted on Nov, 4 2009 @ 09:01 PM
I am in a bit of a quandry as to where to post this thread.

I first thought it might be fitting to post it within one of the several Swine Flu/H1N1 threads, for reasons which should become clear quite quickly.

On the other hand, I did not want to appear to fuel the fear and suspicion surrounding the H1N1 vaccination issue any more than necessary.

Even though, if my suspicions have any merit, such "paranoia” might be well placed.

First, a bit of background.

A little over three years ago, my step-father died, the result of complications arising from Amnyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gerhig’s disease".

ALS is a relatively rare, hideous, and insidious disease that causes the body to virtually “wither away” while leaving its victim’s mind clear and conscious of a slow, painful death.

The loss of my step-father to this ailment was tragic enough in itself; however, what made his death ever more unreal to his family is that a number of years prior to his passing, my brother’s father-in-law also contracted and succumbed to ALS.

These two men were in no way related to each other, save for their relation by marriage ties, and did not even know each other while they were alive. The factor they had in common was that, at some point in their lives, they both served in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Which brings us to the following notice issued by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs:

September 23, 2008

VA Secretary Establishes ALS as a Presumptive Compensable Illness
Cites Association between Military Service and Later Development of ALS
WASHINGTON – Veterans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) may receive badly-needed support for themselves and their families after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced today that ALS will become a presumptively compensable illness for all veterans with 90 days or more of continuously active service in the military.
“Veterans are developing ALS in rates higher than the general population, and it was appropriate to take action,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake said.
Secretary Peake based his decision primarily on a November 2006 report by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the association between active-duty service and ALS.
“We are extremely grateful to Secretary Peake, Congressman Henry Brown and Senator Lindsey Graham for standing on the side of veterans with ALS across the country,” said Gary Leo, president and CEO of The ALS Association. “Thanks to their leadership, veterans with ALS will receive the benefits and care they need, when they need them. Thanks to their efforts, no veteran with ALS will ever be left behind.”
The report, titled Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in Veterans: Review of the Scientific Literature, analyzed numerous previous studies on the issue and concluded that “there is limited and suggestive evidence of an association between military service and later development of ALS.”
“ALS is a disease that progresses rapidly, once it is diagnosed,” the Secretary explained. “There simply isn’t time to develop the evidence needed to support compensation claims before many veterans become seriously ill. My decision will make those claims much easier to process, and for them and their families to receive the compensation they have earned through their service to our nation.”
- More -
New Regulation on ALS Presumptive 2/2/2/2

ALS, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neuromuscular disease that affects about 20,000 to 30,000 people of all races and ethnicities in the United States, is often relentlessly progressive, and is almost always fatal.
ALS causes degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that leads to muscle weakness, muscle atrophy, and spontaneous muscle activity. Currently, the cause of ALS is unknown, and there is no effective treatment.
The new interim final regulation applies to all applications for benefits received by VA on or after September 23, 2008, or that are pending before VA, the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, or the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on that date.
VA will work to identify and contact veterans with ALS, including those whose claims for ALS were previously denied, through direct mailings and other outreach programs.
To view the entire regulation published in the Federal Register today, go to: For more information on VA’s disability compensation program, go to or contact 1-800-827-1000.

# # #

For the latest news releases and other information, visit VA on the Internet at
To receive e-mail copies of news releases, subscribe to VA’s list server at:

I want to emphasis the following point:

The Secretary of the VA is citing an “Association between Military Service and later Development of ALS”, a rare, incurable, and inevitably lethal, disease.

The Secretary even states that ”Veterans are developing ALS at Higher Rates than the general population. And please note that nowhere in the notice does it draw any correlation between dates of service, duty station, duty activities, or even branch of service. No, we can infer, based on the all-inclusive language of the Secretary’s address, that merely having served in any of the service branches is sufficient to have increased your chances of dying in slow agony some time later in your life.

The question in my mind is: Why?

What could be causing this “higher rate of development” among this specific population (veterans) that could span so many decades, so many specialties, and duty stations across the entire world?

What do ALL veterans have in common no matter when they served, where they served, how they served, or in what branch of the military they served?

Could it be the vaccinations they all received when they enlisted?

posted on Nov, 4 2009 @ 10:03 PM
Vaccinations could be a contributing factor, who will ever know. I can say one thing though for sure, the amount of stress you live under when you are in a war zone is indescribable. I saw young guys with full heads of black hair turn permanently gray, at 19 years old, in a matter of months. It took me several years and many hours of therapy just to be able to sleep at night after I got out. So sure, vaccines may contribute, but I think stress is the real thing that destroys a vet.

posted on Nov, 5 2009 @ 01:20 AM
reply to post by factbeforefiction

Re-read the letter.

There is NO mention of a correlation between exposure to "high-stress" situations, like combat, and the recognized increased risk for developing ALS.

A company clerk at Ft Dix in the 1980's is, apparentaly, as likely to suffer as a marine in Mosul or a recruiter in Cleveland.

In short, it ain't the stress.


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