I am Tom Garey
a U.S. military veteran living with ALS,
living with ALS
We will not let ALS be what I am remembered for. I will be remembered as a warrior that faced this disease head on.
Did you serve in the military, specifically the Middle East? After about every test you could have, it was that one question that seemed to solidify my ALS diagnosis. My name is Tom and I was diagnosed with ALS in 2016. I served in the United States Air Force from 1989-1996. It was at my first duty station, Guam, that I deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm. I honorably discharged from the Air Force in 1996. I had been away from the military life for 20 years but my ALS diagnosis brought me back. This is because ALS is a presumptive, service-connected disease. In fact, the prevalence of ALS is higher in the military population compared to those that never served. It took months to recover from the gut-punch that happens when told you have a terminal disease with no cure. This disease forced me to retire from a career with the State of Texas, just shy of full retirement. ALS is a disease that takes. I am 4 1/2 years into this disease and I can no longer walk, talk, eat, drink or even breath on my own. I am now mostly paralyzed, have a trache and ventilator dependent. This disease has taken so much but I fight. My family fights. We will not let ALS be what I am remembered for. I will be remembered as a warrior that faced this disease head on. Someone that advocated to bring not just awareness to the veteran-ALS connection but someone who, along with my amazing and supportive wife, advocated for my fellow brothers and sisters to obtain services and equipment through the VA. Just as the veterans before me fought to make this disease presumptive, I will fight for those that will come after to ensure there are VA resources and established care standards to protect them and their dependents. As it has been said, I have ALS, ALS does not have me.