Over the last year, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has done a tremendous job of shining a light on a devastating disease. On Veterans Day, I want to bring awareness to an alarming ALS statistic.

Military veterans — regardless of the branch of service, regardless of the era in which they served and regardless of whether they served during a time of peace or a time of war — are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if they had not served in the military.

ALS is your worst nightmare. Progressively, it attacks the motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord. When the motor neurons begin to waste away, it causes a loss of muscle control.

Eventually, you’re trapped inside your own body, unable to move, speak, eat and breathe.

Organizations like The ALS Association are working to help veterans with ALS receive the best care and benefits available. They collaborate with the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, scientists, health care professionals, other disease-focused nonprofit organizations and the ALS community to expedite the search for treatments.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for ALS today. But together, we are making promising advances. And you can help.

To read stories from veterans with ALS and advocate on behalf of our military heroes, please visit www.alsa.org/ advocacy/veterans.

Kelly Hutson Viator

executive director, The ALS Association Louisiana-Mississippi Chapter

Baton Rouge