The ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” has become the internet sensation this summer. Your Facebook account probably has received dozens of these videos and challenges designed to raise money for ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. You may have seen former President George W. Bush participate in the challenge which made broadcast news. The DOD has now declared that military personnel cannot participate in such a challenge in uniform because it may be construed as an implied endorsement of support by DOD. Ok, that is overreacting, without thinking the problem through.
DOD should know that ALS afflicts US Military Veterans at twice the rate of the civilian population. The data which VA, ALS, Harvard University and many medical schools have reviewed supports this conclusion. The reason for the startling medical fact is unknown at this time.
In fact, no one knows why U.S. military veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS than the general population, or why those who deployed during the Gulf War in 1990-91 may be twice as likely to get the disease as other troops. Although it’s still a rare illness, affecting about 30,000 people across the country, it is so devastating to its victims and their families that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have made a mission out of trying to reduce their suffering.
VA will treat ALS as a presumptive disease for veterans disability compensation purposes. So after viewing the 100th bucket of cold water being dumped on friends, relatives and celebrities, the challenge is getting a little tedious. However, it is raising money for necessary medical research. I just wish that DOD & VA would use this opportunity to let veterans and the general population know that this is a situation that is inflicting our veterans at twice the normal rate. Did you know that? Think about that or “paste” the above comment into your Facebook page next time a friend sends you one of those videos.
Legal Help for Veterans, PLLC fights for veterans rights. We fight to make sure you get the benefits you deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs. To learn more or contact a veterans attorney, visit http://www.legalhelpforveterans.com/ or call 800.693.4800