To the editor:
Over the last year, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has done a tremendous job of shining a light on a devastating disease. On Veterans Day, I want to bring awareness to an alarming ALS statistic.
Military veterans — regardless of the branch of service, regardless of the era in which they served, and regardless of whether they served during a time of peace or a time of war — are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if they had not served in the military.
ALS is your worst nightmare. Progressively, it attacks the motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord. When the motor neurons begin to waste away, it causes a loss of muscle control. Eventually, you’re trapped inside your own body unable to move, speak, eat and breathe. My mother was diagnosed with ALS when she was taking chemotherapy for breast cancer. Because there is no effective treatment for ALS and the prognosis is terminal, her cancer treatment was terminated immediately and she died a year later from ALS. The prognosis of two to five years of life for those with ALS hasn’t changed since Yankees great, Lou Gehrig was diagnosed back in the 1930s.
Organizations like the ALS Association Central & Southern Ohio Chapter are working to help people in our community with ALS, including veterans, receive the best care and benefits available. In addition, The ALS Association is collaborating with the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Food & Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, scientists, health care professionals, other disease-focused nonprofit organizations, and the ALS community to expedite the search for treatments.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for ALS today, but together we are providing supportive services and care and you can help!
To learn more about free services for those with ALS and to connect to the local chapter, go to www.alsohio.org
Marlin K. Seymour, Executive Director
The ALS Association Central & Southern Ohio Chapter