Those who suffer with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, need lots of care and attention. They have a powerful ally in U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and once again she has stepped forward to help those with a debilitating illness and grim prognosis.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is a medical mystery with work under way to identify causes, treatments and therapies. Last week, the senator used her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to focus some of the federal funding in ALS research on the link between military service and the disease.
The fiscal year 2015 defense budget appropriates $247 million to the Peer Reviewed Medical Research Program, which covers a broad range of science and medicine, with an underlying goal of enhancing the health and well-being of uniformed service personnel, their families, and the veteran population.
Murkowski pointed $7.5 million toward further research on the link between military service and this muscle-wasting disease. The senator points out the Veterans Affairs has regarded ALS as “presumptively service connected” since 2008, and provides for a minimum 100 percent disability rating for veterans diagnosed with ALS.
She also notes that men and women in the service are understood to have a 60 percent better chance than the civilian population of developing the disease.
ALS has touched the senator’s extended family, so she knows of the courage and love that also sustain those who suffer with ALS. Keeping the funding and science focused in a setting of intense competition for scarce resources takes leaders and leadership. Murkowski fills those roles.
This post, originally published at 6:45 a.m. on July 21, 2014, was corrected at 4:33 p.m. on July 21, 2014. Due to incorrect information provided on the senator’s website, an earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to the Department of Veterans Affairs as the Veterans Administration.