VA is not just a place to receive health care and benefits like the GI Bill. It’s also houses a unique research institution where medical advancements have continuously been made since 1925, like the first liver transplant and the development of the nicotine patch. Now, VA’s research department is rolling with arguably its most ambitious project yet.

The Million Veteran Program (MVP) was launched with a goal to build a database with a million blood samples and medical histories. The database hopes to lead to answers about how genes affect health and illness. In fact, screening, diagnosis, and treatment for some illnesses—such as some forms of cancer—have already been improved through knowledge about the effects of certain genes. A large research database may resolve issues that have baffled physicians for years; why treatments work for some and not for others, why some patients are at greater risk, and how to prevent certain illnesses before they spread.

MVP takes great strides to protect the privacy of every volunteer in the program. All personally identifiable data, like names and Social Security numbers, are stripped from the samples and medical history submissions. Simply put, no one can trace a Veteran back to their sample—there is no need to worry about impacts on care or benefits.

MVP eclipsed 10,000 volunteers, but it needs a larger pool of data to really make strides. If you’d like to help your fellow Vets by being a part of the research solution, check out this site for more information on how to contribute your own sample.

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Published on Nov. 15, 2011

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  1. Jeffery Coffman May 8, 2012 at 7:03 am

    As a survivor of the US Army’s Edgewood Arsenal Experiments, I would NEVER volunteer for any research by the VA or the military. Over three decades, service members were exposed to some 400 substances including LSD and Sarin (nerve agent). When Congress found out about the program it was stopped in 1975.

    For years, the VA denied that the experiments even took place. Then when the experiments were partially declassified, the VA commissioned one study for all 400 substances and non-substance test. The result was that if you considered ALL the subjects of the test lumped together, there was no indication of any “significant problems”.

    So by lumping in those service members who tested equipment with those who were injected with toxic substances the VA was able to slant the results in their favor.

    So if the VA can not be trusted to take care of suvivors of other research, how can the VA be trusted to fulfill its obligations to new participants?

  2. Nelson November 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    When ever VA does experimenting on stem cells to repair heart tissue let me know, I am a prime candidate.

  3. Jay H November 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    Agreed. I was glad to hear of this effort and to volunteer as well. It will lend to herald a new line of medical inquiry that will benefit Veterans and society(ies) overall. Let’s hope politics and money pukes don’t get in the way…

  4. Charles T. Cauthen November 17, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I assumed that I was part of VA research study.I was not. I called and signed up for MVP at Miami. While I bitch and complain about the VA, gets you nowhere, we become part of the problem. Why not help with the problem. Vets with multiple medical problems should sign up and help with this reseach. Also there a lot of Veteran Organizations needing volunteers. If you can, volunteer. Be part of the solution, not the problem.Help a Vet.

  5. Carla Felsted November 16, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Thanks for getting the word out. Eric is now connected with the VA here. I’ll find out if he would like to contribute a blood sample and Herb as well. I participated in a VA study a couple of years ago in a control group.

    • Alex Horton November 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm

      Glad to hear! A good cross-section of veterans is what the study really needs.

  6. James Laubler November 16, 2011 at 11:42 am

    Let’s see. You’re telling me that the military is spending money than can be otherwise transferred to us 250,000 gulf war vets that are in pain and can’t work.

    At least NOW I know why my brothers suffer while money flows like water at Niagra from Washington D.C.

    Since congress sets the budget, I guess they know what they will pick over us, too.

    • Retired CWO November 28, 2011 at 8:26 pm

      You are a world class non-hacker!

      ‘Nam 66-67 / 70-71

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