Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

November 12, 2012

Letters to the editor, Sunday, Nov. 11

— Veterans even more likely to suffer from ALS

Dear editor,

A few weeks ago, studies found that NFL players are at greater risk of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Media ran stories about the news and rightfully so. But as we celebrate Veterans Day, how many of us know that a much, much larger segment of our population — military veterans — also is at greater risk of Lou Gehrig’s disease?

Studies have shown that military veterans are about twice as likely to die from ALS as the general public. It does not matter when or where they served in the military — home or abroad, during a time of peace or war, from World War I to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, for these heroes and everyone else in the world who is living with ALS, there is no treatment. There is no cure. They will die from the disease in an average of just two to five years.

We don’t know what causes ALS in veterans or NFL players. Head trauma? Excessive physical activity? Those are potential risk factors. But we do know that raising awareness of the risk faced by our veterans not only can let these heroes know about the significant VA benefits that are available, but also help us to find the cause treatment and cure for this horrific disease.

Just as the media published stories about the greater risk faced by NFL players, so too should they report the risks faced by our military heroes who have fought for and defended our nation.

I encourage your readers to visit the Wall of Honor at www.alsa.org. There, people can read the stories and see the faces of hundreds of veterans living with ALS and those who already have been lost to the disease. There, they can see that ALS does not simply strike the stars we watch on TV every Sunday, but also our family members, friends and neighbors who have served in the military — our heroes.

Zan S. Prince,

Weatherford

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