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2016 CATALOG OF CARING »

Battling ALS: A Veteran’s Bravery and Determination

A soldier training.
After 23 years in the military as a Navy SWCC boat operator transporting Navy SEALs, George has seen some tough fights. Right now, though, he is fighting for his life, as ALS has taken away his body’s ability to move, speak and breathe.  
 
ALS has been recognized as a service-connected disease due to the disproportionate number of military veterans who have been diagnosed with the disease. Men and women who serve in any branch of the United States Military are 60 percent more likely to be diagnosed with ALS than people who did not serve. 
 
As a result, George is able to receive support through his veteran’s benefits. This support has given him access to many useful resources, and has helped him and his wife Laurie adapt the floorplan of their new one-story home to accommodate his wheelchair. 
 
George and his family have also received a lot of assistance from a CFC-supported organization, where they were put in touch with Dr. Galbreath and a care services coordinator named Jeri, both who specialize in ALS. 
 
Dr. Galbreath’s team of clinicians help to make sure everything is being done to keep George healthy and to suggest things like communication devices, feeding tubes and machines to help George breathe as his symptoms progress.
 
Jeri is a special help – she provides information and support throughout a person’s journey with ALS. She’s there to help the patient and their caregivers, usually family members, deal with the everyday changes and challenges of ALS. Jeri is an expert and a go-to resource for George and Laurie.
 
“If we need anything, I can call her.” Laurie says. “She has a lot of the answers, and if she doesn’t, she knows where to find them.”
 
Despite the challenges of having ALS, George hasn’t stopped fighting back. He and his friends have participated in fundraising events and even organized some of their own. George has also been spotlighted by a local news station to further spread awareness about ALS. 
 
Although this battlefield is inside his own body, George is facing it with bravery and determination.