Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Military vets face elevated risk of Lou Gehrig's disease: Decades after Vietnam: A final battle

Decades after Vietnam: A final battle

But Flug is fighting part of the war again, 43 years after he came home from Vietnam. This time, the enemy is winning.

The West Des Moines man has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

But veterans are up to 60 percent more likely to develop ALS than civilians, according to a Harvard University study that paved the way for Flug and others like him to receive disability payments from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs.

Since then, the rare disease has robbed Flug, 66, of his three-mile jogs and long talks with his wife, Polly. He was forced to give up his work in the garden, games with his grandchildren and his beloved pipe organ, which he played every Sunday in church. Flug spends most of his time in a recliner in his living room.

"His name will never appear on the Vietnam War memorial, but he is a casualty of that war as much as those whose names are there," Polly Flug said. "Granted, he had 40-plus years in between. But it's the Vietnam War that's going to kill him."

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