Press Release

December 20, 2001

No. 01-35
(301) 585-4000
Mokie Porter


(Washington, DC)--On December 10, 2001, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the findings of a VA and Department of Defense (DoD)-supported study concerning Gulf War veterans.  The study showed that veterans who served in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm are nearly twice as likely as their non-deployed counterparts to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.  ALS is a fatal neuromuscular disease characterized by progressive muscle weakness that results in escalating paralysis.

"It is important for Gulf War veterans who were deployed in Southwest Asia to be examined to determine if they suffer from any service-related diseases or conditions, including ALS," said Thomas H. Corey, Vietnam Veterans of America's national president. "Any such veteran who has been diagnosed with ALS should immediately file a claim for VA compensation."

The urgency, Corey explained, comes from the fact that because the effective date of an award of service-connected VA benefits is generally the date upon which the claim is filed, a subsequent award of service-connection can be made retroactive to the date of the claim.  "Currently," he said, "presumptive service connection is not available for ALS.  That would require an act of Congress or a new VA regulation.  Consequently, any claim for ALS must be directly supported by proof of service in Southwest Asia through military records, a clinical diagnosis of ALS, and a medical opinion from a private or VA physician that it is likely that the veteran incurred ALS during military service.  The same requirements exist for surviving dependents of a Gulf War veteran who died as the result of ALS in pursuit of their own VA survivor's benefits."  

A veteran does not need to be represented in order to file a claim with the VA. However, Corey strongly encouraged all affected veterans to consult with an experienced veterans service representative.  "A service representative's expertise can make for a more effective claims adjudication process," he noted.

 For a list of accredited VVA service representatives, go to and click on "Veterans Benefits News and Resources." 



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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