US officials Thursday publicly apologized to some 600 veterans who were mistakenly told by letter that they had been diagnosed with the incurable neurodegenerative disorder, Lou Gehrig's disease.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs had sent out letters to about 1,800 former soldiers informing them that they had been found to be suffering with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), it said on its website.
"Unfortunately, VA made a coding error and a number of Veterans who should not have received this letter did," the statement on the website said.
"VA employees are calling veterans and survivors to ensure that they understand the purpose of the letter, explain why they mistakenly received the letter, and express VA's sincere apologies for the distress caused by this unfortunate and regrettable error."
ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive motor neuron illness which gradually leads to paralysis, speech and swallowing difficulties and problems with breathing.
Sufferers usually die within three to five years. British scientist Stephen Hawking is one of the more famous sufferers of the disease which strikes one to three people out of every 100,000.