The cruel mystery of ALS and military veterans

Story highlights

  • Veterans have a 60% higher risk of getting Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as ALS
  • ALS is a progressive disease that attacks muscle motor neurons, leading to paralysis
  • While ALS slowly freezes the body, mental capacity remains normal

(CNN)There's something about military life that is putting our nation's vets in harm's way, and it's not the usual suspects.

It's not a military action or terrorist threat, but a horrifying disease that weakens muscles to the point of paralysis, ultimately trapping people inside their bodies, completely aware, yet unable to move or even breathe without help.
    It's Lou Gehrig's disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, and studies show that if you've served in the military -- any branch, any war, or even if you served in a time of peace -- you have a much higher risk of dying from it than if you were not in the military. And no one seems to know why.