BEDFORD, Va. -

Like many men in his generation, Herman Visser's adult life started with military service.

"I spent four years in the Air Force from 1958 to 1962," explained Visser.

As he remembers, it was a fairly routine experience.

"I was in a dark room for four years as a radar operator," Visser said.  "That was it.  No traumatic experience whatsoever."

The real trauma came 50 years later, when his doctor diagnosed him with ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"I was just in shock," said Visser.  "I was just dumbfounded. I asked where did it come from?"

There's no precise cause for ALS, but one thing researchers have noticed is that military veterans like Visser are twice as likely to develop the disease.

According to the non-profit ALS Association, veterans of all eras are at an increased risk.  It's a fatal condition that slowly paralyzes the body, robbing people of motor skills while their mind remains alert.

Visser recently lost the ability to use his right arm.

"I've become a lefty," said Visser.  "The hardest thing right now is eating left handed."

The Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes ALS as a service-connected disease and provides support to those with at least 90 days of continuous service.

Visser is using those funds to make his home wheelchair accessible.

"There is no cure and there are no treatments," said Visser.  "You just do what you can do, while you can still do it."

While he's still able, he's spreading awareness and encouraging all veterans to get screened.

"If you feel that you are losing strength or having trouble walking get it checked out, because this is no joke," Visser said.  "This is nothing to fool around with."