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ALS affects many veterans

­­­­­UNDATED (WXPR) -- A nationwide craze has seen many folks dumping ice water on their heads as a way to raise awareness and money for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Oneida County Veteran's Service Officer Tammi Walters says there's a link involving a higher incidence of ALS and veterans.  "Over the years the VA has been studying ALS as it pertains to veterans and they found that veterans are found to have a greater chance of being diagnosed with ALS than a non veteran. There's about a 60 percent greater chance of a veteran being diagnosed with ALS than a non veteran."

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS patients eventually leads to their death.

Walters says veterans with ALS can find help through the V.A.  "If a veteran is diagnosed with ALS they should see their CSVO immediately. It is service connected regardless of when they were in the military, where they were stationed, what branch they were in, as long as they were in at least 90 days. Once they file a claim then they are 100 percent service disabled."

Spouses and dependents of veterans with ALS also might be eligible for benefits. Walters says they also should contact the local County Veterans Service Office for more information.