If you’re on Facebook or have watched TV in the past few weeks, you’ve probably seen your friends and a lot of public figures posting videos of themselves dumping ice water on their heads. Ever since the challenge originated, the #ALSicebucketchallenge has escalated from social media feeds to become a viral sensation, spreading awareness of and raising donations for the fight against ALS.

Peter Frates, 29, is a former Boston College baseball star and inspiration behind the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Pictured here with friends and family.

Peter Frates, 29, is a former Boston College baseball star and inspiration behind the viral ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Pictured here with friends and family.

For researchers, physicians, caregivers, and those fighting the disease, this awareness campaign is nothing short of incredible. Fundraising is up over $6 million from the same timeframe last year, from existing donors and thousands of new supporters. At VA, we find it particularly inspiring, as Veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS than the general population.

Recognizing ALS as a service-connected disease, the Department of Veterans Affairs has made it a top priority to provide care and access to benefits for Veterans, and provides financial and medical support to those with at least 90 continuous days of military service.

Just before the ice bucket challenge went viral, an article appeared earlier this summer in the Raleigh, NC News & Observer, highlighting Veterans who suffer from ALS. In the piece, Suzanne Gilroy, a senior social work manager for the North Carolina chapter of the ALS Association commented:

“I tell people there are two different worlds for people with ALS. There’s the one for people who are veterans, and the one for everybody else. The veterans get taken care of.”

The ALS team at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System serves a multi-disciplinary specialty clinic for Veterans with ALS.

The ALS team at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System serves a multi-disciplinary specialty clinic for Veterans with ALS.

If you’re a health care provider with a passion to serve this Veteran population and others, visit VAcareers.va.gov to learn more about a career at VA.

Further reading on VA’s history with ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease

Paralyzed Veterans of America

VA.gov

ALSA.org

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Published on Aug. 18, 2014

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