Saturday, November 11, 2006

On This Veterans' Day

ROVE: Yeah, I'm looking at all these [polls], Robert, and adding them up, and I add up to a Republican Senate and Republican House. You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math, I'm entitled to THE math.

SIEGEL: Well, I don't know if we're entitled to our different math, but you're certainly -

ROVE: I said THE math. I said you're entitled to yours.

'The (Rove) math' explains a lot about the last six years of the Bush administration.

Lou Gehrig's Disease and Gulf War Service

As much as the Bush administration has tried to deny any connection between service in the Gulf and the dramatic number of sick veterans, this new study makes the plight of our veterans all that much harder to deny:
The risk of a Gulf War veteran developing Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) later on is two times higher than for other people, say researchers from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), USA. ALS is a neurodegenerative disease, which is often fatal - the patient's nerve cells progressively breakdown, he/she loses muscle control, and eventually becomes paralyzed.

ALS = Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis = Lou Gehrig's disease

About 20,000 - 30,000 people in the USA have ALS.

According to Dr. Richard Johnson, lead author of a new report, the link is appears pretty strong. In general, he said, the risk for a soldier developing ALS one day is 50% greater than for people who were never in the military - this 50% raised risk refers to soldiers or ex-soldiers who were not in the Gulf War.

The writers of the report looked at five studies, of which three included data on veterans who had been in the Gulf War (1990-91). One of the studies indicated that people who had served in the military before 1990-91, but had not served in the Gulf War, had a 1.5 higher probability of developing ALS. Another study found no link at all between military service (Gulf War and non-Gulf War) and altered ALS risk.

Dr. Johnson stressed that further studies are needed to confirm their findings. If a link is confirmed, we need to find out why. Could it be exposure to toxic chemicals, the result of traumatic experiences, being physically pushed to the limits, or something else?

Even though there does seem to be evidence suggesting a link between raised ALS risk and military service, especially Gulf War service, Johnson said the risk for veterans is still tiny. The risk for the general population is about 1 in 100,000. Even if the risk were double, it would be 1 in 50,000.

More about "the math":

The actual numbers of U.S. soldiers reported as killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan is much higher than reported, because if, once wounded, they survive the airlift to a medical facility out of country, and then die, they are not included in the casualty count.

These are a couple of survivors, wounded, who may yet develop some of the other illnesses their brothers in arms have. Warning: The images of the injuries to these soldiers are extremely graphic:

"Mamas, don't let your children grow up to be soldiers in 'wars of choice'."

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