Soldiers, vets with Lou Gehrig's disease win housing subsidies

Veterans and active-duty service members who suffer from Lou Gehrig's disease will have immediate access to a government-funded housing program under new rules from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The VA announced Wednesday that soldiers who suffer from Lou Gehrig's disease, formally known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), will be eligible for its specially adapted housing program.

The housing program provides grants to soldiers with disabilities, now including ALS, so they can buy new homes or fix up homes they already own to accommodate their disabilities.

The soldiers can receive up to $67,555 in grant money to remodel their homes or find new places to live.

The VA tentatively added Lou Gehrig's disease to the list of diseases that qualify for the program in December, and the agency said Wednesday it is finalizing the rule.

Much maligned for the recent scandal over long wait times at VA hospitals, the department said it is pushing the rule through without further comment, because of the urgency of soldiers who suffer from ALS. 

"Delay in the implementation of this rule would have been impracticable and contrary to the public interest, particularly to veterans and active-duty service members," the agency wrote in the Federal Register.

"Because the survival period for persons suffering from ALS is generally 18 to 48 months or less from the onset of symptoms, any delay in establishing [Special Adapted Housing] eligibility is extremely detrimental to veterans and active-duty service members who are currently afflicted with ALS," it added.