Northland News

Clarence Mingo II

County auditor discloses struggles with Parkinson's

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

It started with a tremor in his right hand, something combat veteran Clarence Mingo II said he brought home with him from the Gulf War.

In the 23 years since, the Franklin County auditor has endured other neurological impairments -- some small, others more severe.

As of three months ago, doctors made it official: Mingo was suffering the debilitative effects of Parkinson's disease.

Mingo, 41, said he's humbled by his condition. He said he decided to go public with it so those close to him would understand and that he could offer support to others who suffer, particularly veterans.

"For years, people have noticed and commented on the symptoms and I have never artfully explained what it is they were seeing," Mingo said.

Parkinson's disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement, advances at different rates in people. Mingo said he's pleased to be in the high-functioning category of those facing the disease.

"I've managed vs. recovered from these symptoms," he said.

Other maladies associated with the disease include muscle stiffness and problems with posture and balance.

Mingo, a Republican, said he plans to seek re-election to the office next year. He said the condition does not affect his ability to do his job as auditor, although some physical activities -- from getting out of a chair to getting into a car -- can be difficult.

"I think it's important to note that Parkinson's or related disorders can be life-challenging, but they certainly don't mean you should stop living," he said.

Mingo of New Albany said there are ways to stem the advance of the disease, through exercise, a healthy diet, effective drug therapies and moderate consumption of alcohol (he said he doesn't drink).

In the Army, Mingo was in the 1st Infantry field artillery in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, although he said he didn't receive a traumatic injury to his brain or other parts of his body.

But some military reports suggest Persian Gulf veterans are at a greater risk for developing neurological conditions.

Government health officials link that with exposure to a toxic environment, including exposure to sarin gas, fumes from burning oil wells and depleted uranium.

The story recently took another, more decidedly political, turn last week when U.S. Congress last week passed a budget that could cut benefits to disabled military retirees.

Mingo said he wasn't happy about the decision.

"We should meet those obligations," he said.

He said he's fortunate to have strong support from friends and family, particularly his wife, Angela, and their two daughters, Analise, 8, and Ava, 7.

"I plan to work hard and make the most of every day," Mingo said. "And I don't see any reason why I won't be able to do that."

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