On Veterans Day, I want to bring awareness of an alarming statistic about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Military veterans, regardless of the branch of service, regardless of the era in which they served, and regardless of whether they served during a time of peace or a time of war, are at a greater risk of dying from ALS than if they had not served in the military.
ALS is your worst nightmare. Progressively, it attacks the motor neurons in your brain and spinal cord. When the motor neurons begin to waste away, it causes a loss of muscle control.
Eventually, you’re trapped inside your own body, unable to move, speak, eat, and breathe. My mother was diagnosed with ALS when she was taking chemotherapy for breast cancer. Because there is no effective treatment for ALS and the prognosis is terminal, her cancer treatment was terminated immediately and she died a year later from ALS.
The prognosis of two to five years of life for those with ALS hasn’t changed since Yankees great Lou Gehrig was diagnosed back in the 1930s.
Organizations like the ALS Association, Central & Southern Ohio Chapter are working to help people in our community with ALS, including veterans, receive the best care and benefits available.
In addition, the ALS Association is collaborating with the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Food & Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, scientists, health care professionals, other disease-focused nonprofit organizations, and the ALS community to expedite the search for treatments.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for ALS today, but together we are providing supportive services and care, and you can help!
To learn more about free services for those with ALS and to connect to the local chapter, go to:
Marlin K. Seymour
executive director
The ALS Association, Central & Southern Ohio Chapter
Far too many of us have no true understanding of what it means for someone to be a veteran.
If we are fortunate enough to be able to spend some time with one, and listen intently when they grow quiet, and then begin to speak from deep inside, in half whispers that are sometimes interrupted by long silences, then you’ll hear things like:
• “I’ve done things that haunt me in my sleep so you can sleep in safety.”
• “I’ve been away from home for such a long, long, time to protect your home from those who would do you harm.”
• “I have sacrificed part of my life so you can live a life in peace.”
• “I have done these things because I’ve sworn an oath to my country; and I will still live by that oath until the day I die, because I am, and will always be, a U.S. veteran.”
We are blessed to live among them and for me, these words paint a picture of a man I am privileged to call my friend, Capt. William “Bill” Rowe.
A veteran of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, Bill distinguished himself in both the infantry and armor during a career stretching from 1944 through 1964.
His Silver Star was won in 1953 on a hill in Korea where he chose to face an all but certain death, to keep those behind him from being overrun by the enemy.
Findlay is fortunate to be able to call Bill a long-term resident. We owe more than can ever be expressed to him and those like him.
Make an effort this Veterans Day to make sure they know that we appreciate who and what they are.
Dan Feasel
With Veterans Day here, I reflect upon how blessed and honored that I am to know Bill Rowe. Sitting in his chair with his military hat on, I cannot imagine what he has sacrificed for us.
He does not brag or willingly speak of the war, but when my curiosity can no longer stand it, I ask him if he has seen anyone die. He responds with a calm, gentle “yes.”
I can’t imagine the scenes that he has seen and the bravery he must have. When I ask him to speak Japanese, it is remarkable how he had to know how to speak to the enemy and he still remembers this language.
When I asked him why he does not let college students take him to lunch for Veterans Day, he said, “I do not want them to spend money on my lunch, when they are strapped for money.”
What a thoughtful, kind, caring, selfless, strong man.
I enjoy spending time with him as his humor has not been suppressed by the battles he has been through and with losing his wife last year.
Bill was married for 65 years. They had two children together. I can see the love of his wife in his words, memories, pictures and smiles.
He was able to fight for us and come home and be a loving husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather of two young men.
I’m glad to know that his strength, intelligence, beliefs, stories will be carried on by them. God bless and thank you for your service, Bill. You’re one amazing man.
Ruthann Myers