Canadian Veterans Get ALS Help! Salute to Major Donnelly, Donnelly Family, and Maj Hebert

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News:  Our Canadian Brothers and Sisters Veterans Now Getting ALS Help!

This writer has to pause and thank Major Michael Donnelly, his father,Tom Donnelly, a Vietnam Veteran and former state legislature and the whole Donnelly Family and Major Randy Hebert who testified to Congressman Shay’s committee on Gulf War Illness that got this started for US Veterans in the mid 1990’s.   See the book Falcon’s Cry for Major Donnelly’s story.  Major Michael Donnelly and his father Tom are watching from Heaven now but those first efforts on the Hill have now even touched other nations.   Now we have to be sure that UK and Australia follows!

Feds ante up for veterans with ALS

By BRYN WEESE, Parliamentary Bureau

Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)

OTTAWA — Canadian veterans diagnosed with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, won’t have to fight for health and financial benefits anymore.

From now on, any veteran diagnosed with the fatal disease will automatically qualify.

Veterans Affairs Minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn made the announcement Friday.

“Having met with veterans with ALS, I am deeply touched by what they have lived through,” he said. “These veterans and their families have to be able to devote all of their energy fighting this terrible disease, not fighting for the care and financial support they have earned.

“Never again do I want to hear of a veteran with ALS who has expended his last ounces of energy fighting for the help he deserves.”

ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) is a rapidly progressive and fatal neuromuscular disease that causes the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

As it progresses, people suffering from the disease lose control of their muscles making breathing and other vital functions impossible, and 80% of people diagnosed with ALS die within two to five years.

And while there is still no medical link between military service and ALS, evidence is mounting that there is a connection. For example, United States veterans from the first Gulf War experienced 50% to 60% higher rates of ALS than the general population.

Blackburn said, while there still isn’t a scientific link, the government had to do something.

Mike Watson, a 20-year naval veteran who was diagnosed with ALS more than six years ago, joined Blackburn Friday, and said he was surprised the government acted so quickly on the issue.

“I did not expect this announcement to be made in my lifetime,” Watson said.

One veteran who wasn’t there was Brian Dyck, a Gulf War vet and Ottawa police officer who died from ALS earlier this month.

Dyck had taken the government to task this summer for denying veterans with ALS and their families the health and financial benefits they needed to cope with the deadly disease.

According to government figures, there are 67 Canadian veterans with ALS and 36 of them who previously had their applications for benefits denied will have those decisions reversed, though eight have since died and their families will receive them.

With the changes announced Friday, not only will veterans with ALS be automatically approved for disability benefits, medical treatments and home care support, they will also now be eligible for adapted wheelchairs, medical resources, housekeeping and other services to help them and their families cope.

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