- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 11, 2001

Soldiers who served in the Gulf war were nearly twice as likely as other military personnel to develop Lou Gehrig's disease, the government reported yesterday, the first time it has acknowledged a link between service in the Gulf and a specific disease.
The Veterans Administration said it immediately would offer disability and survivor benefits to veterans who served in the Persian Gulf during the conflict a decade ago.
"The hazards of the modern-day battlefield are more than bullet wounds and saber cuts," said Anthony Principi, secretary of Veterans Affairs.
The results released yesterday have not yet been reviewed by other scientists or published in an academic journal, but officials said they were releasing them to prevent further delay in compensating victims of the progressive, fatal disease.
"They need help now, and we will offer them that help," Mr. Principi said.
The study compared nearly 700,000 military personnel who served in the Gulf war between August 1990 and July 1991 with 1.8 million personnel who were not deployed to the region. It found that those who were deployed to the Gulf were nearly twice as likely to develop amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal neurological disorder often called Lou Gehrig's disease.
Among Gulf war veterans, the rate of disease was 6.7 persons per million. Among other military personnel, it was 3.5 per million.
The rate was not uniform among all personnel. Those who served in the Air Force were 2.7 times as likely to contract the disease, and those in the Army were twice as likely. Disease rates among Marine and Navy veterans were not statistically different from personnel not in the Gulf.

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