By Russell Mikunda
Before being diagnosed with ALS, I had no idea that veterans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with the disease. Even knowing what I know now, I would still serve my country.
I was in the Navy for eight years, reporting for duty on three different ships during my time in the service. During my second deployment, we were off the coast of Beirut when things started to heat up during the early 1980s.
I’m very proud to be a veteran. The VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) takes good care of me. But sometimes I worry that everybody with ALS doesn’t get that same high level of treatment I do.
My job now is to be an advocate and to teach people about ALS. This is a disease that is challenging every day. Every day I wake up not knowing what’s going to happen.
Imagine a jar of peanut butter that’s already been opened, but you can’t open it because you don’t have the strength. Imagine going to the pump, putting the credit card in, and you don’t have the strength to pull it back out, or picking up a fork and think you have a hold of it and you drop it. This is life for us daily.
Having ALS is what I would call a roller coaster ride – because of the denial you sometimes feel and then trying to accept this is happening to me.
When we first started this journey, my wife and I felt lost. The ALS Association and the VA have helped us tremendously.
And special people like [the ALS community] make our lives better. We’re blessed to have you standing behind us.
Help to give hope to people like me, and people who aren’t as fortunate as I am to have the VA. These are their lives that we’re talking about, and every bit helps.
Make an Impact. Donate now.