Lou Gehrig's Disease Now Service-Connected Disability
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Hitting Vets at Twice the Rate as Regular Population
By Gary Davis, published Jul 16, 2008
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I am a veteran of the Vietnam War so, of course, I am a supporter of about any benefit that a vet is given, but there has been a gray area for a long time with respect to disabilities and "service-related" disabilities, and sometimes it is very difficult to ascertain the difference.
News Now 2 (WBCD-TV) has reported that one of the most terrible illnesses in existence, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease is now being considered as a service-connected disability.
ALS is a progressive illness that slowly robs its victims of all capability to move; they are completely helpless and dependent with ultimate deterioration varying from patient to patient with respect to time. It is almost always fatal.
As News Now 2 went on to report, the reason for the decision is that war veterans are experiencing twice the rate of ALS as the regular population.
The decision was made by Secretary of Veterans' Affairs James Peake and has received support from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Representative Henry Brown (R-South Carolina-Hanahan).the article goes on to report.
So what determines whether or not an illness is service-connected?
In my case, I have had two at one time or another. One method is if it is diagnosed in your military records. In my case I had "post traumatic war syndrome" and it was diagnosed and was obviously as a part of being in a war at such a young age.
The next method is not quite so easy because it takes time to assimilate the results.
I battled adult-onset diabetes for a while and it was automatically considered service-connected. As with many other illnesses, including many cancers and now amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the basis is that there are extremely more cases which develop in the vet population than the regular population but, as I said, it takes time for these differences to show up. The question is why do they show up?
The conclusion that the government has come to is that the cause of these major medical differences is caused by the exposure to Agent Orange as used in Vietnam. While it was once thought that Agent Orange only affected those in the infantry, it has now been shown that many, many vets were affected.
So ALS has been added to the list of service-connected disabilities. The reason, as News Now 2 reports is that there is twice the incidence of the illness among vets. As I know, if it isn't service-connected, that determination is made by considering Agent Orange as the cause.
Military Agent Orange Disability Listing (2007)
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