Michigan native and U.S. veteran Melissa Siebert was diagnosed with ALS in early February. One item on her bucket list is to raise awareness about ALS and the fact that veterans have two times the prevalence of the disease. Dr. Eva Feldman and NBC WDIV joined together to fulfill this wish.
Veteran diagnosed with ALS raises thousands for bucket list, medical research
Melissa Siebert is the mother of 2 young children
DETROIT – Michigan native and U.S. veteran Melissa Siebert was diagnosed with ALS early February.
“To hear that when you’re 41 years old, is crushing,” said Siebert. “The neurologist even cried telling me because I was the fifth person that he had diagnosed in 10 days.
Siebert served in Afghanistan and went to a VA hospital in Virginia where she lives meaning those four other patients her neurologist diagnosed were also veterans.
Dr. Eva Feldman, University of Michigan professor of neurology and director of its ALS Center of Excellence said veterans are at a higher risk.
“The average risk is somewhere between two and three fold higher if you have served in the military, versus if you have not served in the military, in developing ALS and there’s a particularly high peak in Gulf War veterans,” Feldman said.
Multiple studies have been done to find out why.
“They are exposed to pollutants, to air pollution to pesticides, more than an individual who’s not necessarily in the military and we believe that is strongly driving ALS risk,” said Feldman.