For years researchers have been trying to draw ties between ALS and military veterans. The data shows very clear evidence that there is a direct correlation between the two but until recently researchers could not show why. A group of researchers took on the task of investigating ALS in post-gulf-war US Military Veterans over a 14-year timeline. After the 14 years study researchers have found substantive evidence connecting the military work environment to the onset of ALS in U.S. war Veterans.
The project studied patients cared for in the Veterans Health Administration from 2002 to 2015. Out of the 1,100,000 people reviewed, about 1 out of every 5,000 were diagnosed with ALS. In the general population ALS affects about 1 out of every 20,000 individuals.
Previous studies show that Gulf War Veterans were twice as likely to get ALS compared to the general population. This study shows that post 9/11 veterans are 60 times more likely to get ALS when compared to the general population. In an effort to analyze why this is, the research group compared military divisions, rankings, and age groups to find correlations. Their findings show a drastically higher numbers among Air Force personnel. Age does not seem to be a factor but there are signs of early onset among deployed military service members.
Evidently of higher prevalence of ALS among some military specific occupations opens up the question, what hazards are increase the onset of ALS in these divisions? Currently precautions are being made in order to protect veterans from occupational hazards in the workforce. Further research will help prevent and increasing in the onset of ALS among veterans.