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article imageVA Letter Gives Some Vets False ALS News

By KJ Mullins     Aug 26, 2009 in Health
The United States Veterans Administration sent out more than 1,800 letters to Gulf War vets letting them know that their having ALS made them eligible for 100 per cent compensation. That would have been good news if the vets really had the disease.
ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig's disease or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is a fatal neurological disease.
The VA sent the letters on August 12 to inform the veterans of the disability benefits that were available to them. A computer coding error labeled those receiving the letter as having the disease. Katie Roberts, a spokeswoman from the VA, said the agency has been contacted by a small number of veterans that didn't know about an ALS diagnosis. Officials are reviewing all of the cases who were sent letters Roberts added reports USA Today.
The benefits for those with a 100% designation can be good news. The veteran gets a monthly payment of $2,700 and more if they have a spouse or children. But to hear that you qualify because of a deadly disease is not positive news.
Brent Casey is one of the vets who was sent the letter. He is already receiving the full benefits after being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome. Casey is currently in college working on a master's degree so his mother read him the letter over the telephone. The news floored the man who volunteers at the local VA, USA Today reported.
"By volunteering at the VA, I've learned a lot of these illnesses. So I knew firsthand what that meant for me," Casey said. "I just had a total meltdown.My concern is, what about the guy who's been on vacation, and he comes home to find this letter this evening? We need to get the word out to these guys."
Gale Reid, a former Air Force reservist also was sent the letter mistakenly. The woman spent a week being tested for the disease.
The Leaf Chronicle reports:
"I've been through a week of hell, emotionally, physically and financially," she said.
ALS generally takes a person's life within five years. It is a very painful disease that robs a person the use of their body as the muscles die. My grandfather died from ALS in the 1980's and suffered greatly.
The VA is already dealing with a scandal over shoddy endoscopies and colonoscopies. At least 98 veteran were given radiation doses that were wrong during prostate cancer treatments. The scandal has also seen eight patients testing positive for HIV.
More about Veterans administration, Lou gehrig disease, Compensation
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