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Died as Victims of a Negligent and Irresponsible Government

EllenI originally wrote this page or  item as a "letter to the editor" of three newspapers in Febraury and March of 2009. I made reference to a then recent news article about an unfortunate incident in which Verne Gagne, a popular former Minneapolis wrestler who later became an Alzheimer’s victim, attacked and injured Helmut. Gutmann, a 97 year old scientist (former escapee from Nazi Germany in 1936) and also an Alzheimer’s victim. The attack caused injuries to Mr. Gutmann from which he later died. Because of the ravages of this disease, neither party later could even recall the incident. The events all took place in an Alzheimer’s care facility. The unfortunate incident was then officially ruled a homicide. The question was then raised: “Should some one be criminally charged for Mr. Gutmann’s death?  

I would say that the answer is a resounding yes.

We have a Government of  both a President and a Congress that should all be charged with negligent homicide.  

They should be charged for the death of my wife June Berg and my mother Ellen Silbaugh and the over 200 other people that die every day in the United States from Alzheimer’s disease. Four die every day here in Minnesota alone. 

The many years of neglect by our government would be obvious to a first grader. We have a government of a president and a congress that have grossly under funded research into the cause and cure of Alzheimer’s disease now for many years. 

Our government has consistently for many years now, given over (6) six times more dollars in funding to AIDS/HIV research than they have given to Alzheimer’s research. That is in spite of the fact that AIDS is not one of the 15 leading causes of death in the United States. Alzheimer’s however is the 5th leading cause of disease death in the United States. Currently Ten (10) times more people die in the United States from Alzheimer’s compared to the number that die from AIDS/HIV. I have no objection to giving adequate funding to AIDS/HIV but do not take it away from Alzheimer’s when Alzheimer’s is actually the far greater problem.


My wife June died from Alzheimer’s on October 23rd, 2008 at the Benedictine Health Care Center of Innsbruck, New Brighton. My mother Ellen died from Alzheimer’s on October 21st 2007 at the Barron Nursing Home in Barron, WI.  

We have a president who did nothing with his four years as senator except to run for President. (A quote from Hilary Clinton during the primaries.) We have a congress that spends their time funding all of their favorite pork projects and bailing out those who are and were responsible for our present economy. The president’s new 2012 budget has more money directed towards obesity study than reasearch for Alzheimer's.. Has our government gone completely crazy?  Are there no sane members of our government functioning in Washington? This  is not a political assessment...this has been going on for decades and both parties share in the blame and the pathetic results!

When my wife June was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in January of 1998, she and I were told that with all of the research going on, there would be a cure for Alzheimer’s in 5-10 years. Well, my wife died almost 11 years is now almost 4 more years since June passed on and we are still no closer to a cure than we were in 1998. The reason is  simple...clearly it is because the funding for Alzheimer’s research is grossly under funded, and that the existing medical research funding is inappropriately allocated.

It is estimated that one half of our present WWII veterans are now afflicted with Alzheimer’s and the government has effectively turned their backs on them. This is shameful and disgraceful. 

Yes, there is blame for Mr. Gutmann’s death...and all the other Alzheimer's deaths...enough to go around all of Washington. But the blame has little to do with Mr. Gagne. Just as a negligent and irresponsible government is to blame for the hundreds of thousands of other victim’s of Alzheimer’s who have already passed on from this dread disease.  

One might ask, would additional research really have made that much of a difference? The answer is clearly, yes; it would have made the difference. One has only to look at the results in the case of AIDS/HIV research where a major funding effort was made.  AIDS/HIV which burst onto the public health stage only about 30 years ago as a terminal disease. Immediately thereafter massive funding efforts were directed towards research into AIDS/HIV, it is no longer considered a death sentence. On the other hand, Alzheimer's which has been around since before the birth of Christ and officially as a disease for over 100 years, is still the terrible relentless terminal disease, that is claiming more and more Americans every day!

When I think of the 450,000 new cases of Alzheimer's every year here in the US (1200 a day), 37 million existing cases estimated worldwide, the war crimes of WWII and later pale in comparison to the tradgedy now being perpetuated against humanity by greed, selfishness, negligence and apathy! This pathetic story is mirrored by all of the governments world wide.

For the price of an aircraft carrier, June's and my mother's life could probably have been saved plus the over 200 that currently die every day from Alzheimer's in the United States and the countless thousands that die a slow lingering and relentless death world wide!


     Note: This original article was submitted to the “Letters” of the Minneapolis Star – Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Saturday February 28th 2009. (Minus the photos) - An emaciated version was published in the 2 March 2009 Star and Tribune. - It has also been published in the complete text Less photos)  in the Barron News - Shield, Barron, WI on Wednesday March 11th, 2009. This page, while still using the original news article as a jumping off place, has since been updated with the new data  that has become available...the story however still remains one of negligence, greed, selfishness and apathy on the part of our government!


 Reader's Comments


Debra Brown Leen, Bangor, Maine (5/15/2012):  "very good sickens me how little is allocated for research......obesity is self can be cured by eating right and exercising!! Alzheimer's is not a choice!!! I am sorry others don't share your zeal for spreading the word!!! and so much funding for Aids!!!......compared to Alzheimer' sickening!.......I will continue to give money to the Alzheimer's Association...and raise money by walking.....and hope my small effort can help where the government doesn't seem to care........"

 Bridie Breen, Manchester, UK (5/15/2012): "That's a powerful article and I do truly believe that sufficient allocation of funds as you describe will focus researchers and achieve eradication of this horrible disease. The political climate here in UK is warmed to the reality of a population on the near horizon which will require more care and support to ' live well' with dementia. All the rhetoric aside Stan, how much better for individuals not to have to live with it at all? Alzheimer's Research UK is one body working hard but like you say, 10- 15 yrs is still too long a wait."

Dianne Cogar, Springfield, Ohio (5/15/2012): "Stan, I pray your journey in fighting for the victims of Alzheimer's is a victorious one in the end. You are paving the way."