Resolution No. 647


WHEREAS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a fatal neurological condition that destroys motor neurons, the specialized brain and spinal cord nerve cells that control muscles; and

WHEREAS, while progression of the disease may vary, approximately 50 percent of people with the disease die within three years of the first symptoms; and

WHEREAS, an estimated 30,000 Americans (less than one percent of the population) suffer from this disease; and

WHEREAS, it typically appears in people between the ages of 50 and 70; and

WHEREAS, the average age of a Persian Gulf War veteran is 32 years; and

WHEREAS, estimates suggest that normal risk is less than one in one million per year for a person in their 30s to contract ALS; and

WHEREAS, a recent study of veterans' health records showed a higher than normal incidence of ALS among Persian Gulf War veterans, with no present research as to why; and

WHEREAS, that "normal incidence" is estimated at 27 veterans but there are over 40 veterans with ALS symptoms enrolled in the VA's "Epidemiological Investigation into the Occurrence of Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis Among Gulf War Veterans" currently being conducted at the Durham VA Medical Center; and

WHEREAS, Congress has historically solved such uncertainty by authorizing a presumption of service connection in circumstances where a statistical association indicates it is at least as likely as not that the disease is due to military service; and

WHEREAS, as long as a question of a casual connection between service in the Persia Gulf and ALS goes unresolved, the circumstances of a higher than usual incidence of ALS in Persian Gulf War veterans warrant a presumption of service connection; now, therefore

BE IT RESOLVED, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, that we call for intensified medical and scientific research to determine the cause of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis among Gulf War veterans and, in the interim, we

Submitted by Commander-in-Chief


Resolution No. 647 - page 2 - continued

urge Congress to grant a temporary presumption of service connection for
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis for Persian Gulf War veterans until such time
as the research is complete.