WXIA -- Military veterans are more likely to contract ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (aka "Lou Gehrig's disease") than the rest of the population.
That's based on a 2005 study. The report states that men and women with any history of military service in the last century are at a nearly 60% greater risk of ALS than men and women who did not serve in the military.
"...study after study continues to demonstrate this to be true: If you serve in the military, regardless of the branch of service, regardless of whether you served in the Persian Gulf War, Vietnam, Korea, or World War II, and regardless of whether you served during a time of peace or a time of war, you are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if you had not served in the military," said Steve Gibson vice president for government relations and public affairs of The ALS Association.
The study shows Gulf War veterans are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS as those not deployed to the Gulf.
None of the studies analyzed provides any answers to why those in military service are at such a great risk of developing ALS.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord, ultimately resulting in a loss of voluntary muscle control, paralysis and death.
The average life expectancy for people with ALS is two to five years from the time of diagnosis and there is no known cause, cure or means of prevention for the disease.
Here are three metro Atlanta veterans who were diagnosed with ALS:
Herbert A Rash
Served: 1976 - 1983
Hometown: MCDONOUGH, GA
Marine Corps 1976 to 1983. Diagnosed with ALS 13 Sept 2011.
Branch: Air Force
Served: 1953 - 1957
Hometown: Jackson, GA
Bradley Thomason, was in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. He lived his life in service to others including his country, family, Church, and community. He lost his battle with ALS on June 10, 2011.
Charlie P Jones
Served: 1933 - 1954
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Charlie Paul Jones, born April 21, 1914, in Tyler, Texas, joined the Army in 1933 and served in World War II in the Middle East and in Korea. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1954 at the age of 40. Retiring from his second career in 1976, he became very active in the Yaarab Temple Shriners' LOH and carried the American Flag in the color guard unit until diagnosed with ALS in 1997 at 83. He died on September 2, 2000. He was 86.
If you are a veteran, or the survivor of a veteran who has been lost to ALS, click here to post your story to the ALS Association Wall of Honor. For more information on the GA Chapter of the ALS Association, click here.