In his Jan. 19 Sunday Opinion column, “Back to basics: Less tea, more pork,” Dana Milbank decried the award to the Pentagon of $666 million to study medical conditions, including ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, as “not closely related to war-fighting.” 

In fact, there is growing evidence that people who served in the military have a higher incidence of ALS than the general population. Far from being wasted, the portion of that $666 million spent on ALS research may help nail down this connection and, in doing so, identify the particular aspects of military service that contribute to the disease. We don’t know for certain whether ALS and military service are related. But if we don’t spend the money on the research, we’ll never find out.

Nancy Stanley, Washington