IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

December 10, 2001

No. 01-34
(301) 585-4000
Contact:
Mokie Porter

VVA APPLAUDS VA ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF ALS
AMONG GULF WAR VETS
Group Calls for Immediate Compensation for Survivors, Renewed Research Effort 


(Washington, DC) -- Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) today congratulated Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi for moving quickly to declare amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) a direct service-connected disability among deployed Desert Storm veterans, and for his commitment to compensate veterans and their survivors. 

"For years, the veterans community has maintained that deployed Gulf War veterans were dying of this disease at a greater rate than their nondeployed brethren," said Tom Corey, VVA's national president. "Now we know our fears were justified." 

The preliminary results of a joint DoD-VA funded study--to be published within the next few months--revealed that at least 40 Gulf War veterans who deployed to the Gulf developed ALS. 

Individual veterans, veterans’ groups, and private-sector researchers have for years maintained that ALS was far more prevalent among Desert Storm veterans than the Pentagon or the VA would admit. Congressional hearings in 1996-1997, chaired by Connecticut congressman Christopher Shays, helped propel the issue to forefront of medical research. 

Questions remain about ALS causality, and Corey called for increased federal spending on a host of military service-related medical conditions. 

"What we know beyond all doubt is that military service carries with it special hazards that often remain undetected until years, even decades, after the fact. Now is the time for the Congress and the administration to create and properly fund a National Institute of Veterans Health within NIH to pursue research and treatment programs for all of these service-related maladies." 

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is  "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."   

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