The ALS Society Canada, Veteran’s Tribute Wall recognizes military veterans with ALS by sharing their personal stories and their photographs. The wall is a poignant and integral part of the ALS Canada website.
The society takes special interest in all veterans who have served Canada and now struggle with ALS. According the their website (www.als.ca), American studies show people, who served in the military, are approximately twice as likely to develop ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, versus those who have not served.
“These veterans are inspiring people with life stories that are bigger than their diagnosis. We’ll accept voluntary submissions from any veteran and their family connected to ALS. These military members made a difference,” said Rebecca Grima, marketing and communications manager, ALS Society Canada.
A huge battle was won on October 15, 2010 when the Honourable Jean-Pierre Blackburn, then Minister of Veterans Affairs and Agriculture, announced veterans living with ALS would obtain more rapid access to disability benefits and home-care support.
The victory was the culmination of many months of campaigning by ALS Society Canada on behalf of Canadian veterans.
“We hope this web story reaches veterans and/or their families, and they send us their short biographies, but we mainly want people to come to the page to read about these courageous people and what they faced in the military and then battling this difficult disease. We just want to honour them, and this was the best way we knew how. They deserve for people to know them,” said Grima.
On their website the organization describes the human brain as being connected to the body’s muscles through a series of living wires called motor neurons. Each connection consists of two motor neurons connected together. The brain sends a signal along these motor neurons telling muscles to contract.
These motor neurons are grouped in bundles that run throughout our body to allow people to move, speak, swallow, and breath. With ALS, these motor neurons degenerate and die, which breaks the connection from the brain to the muscle leading to weakness, followed by paralysis of the disconnected muscle.
The paralysis spreads throughout the body and eventually affects the muscles required for all movement, speech, swallowing and breathing. The inability to expand and contract muscles for breathing is what makes ALS a terminal disease. On average, a person diagnosed with ALS has between two to five years before death.
ALS Canada, founded in 1977, is the only national voluntary health organization dedicated solely to the fight against ALS and support for those with ALS. ALS Canada is the leading not-for-profit organization working with the provincial ALS Societies to fund nationwide ALS research.
Please visit their website to learn more about veterans and their battle with ALS or to submit a story. Due to the volume of submissions received there may be a delay in response.
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