On May 12, VA and American Veterans (AMVETS) hosted a Facebook Live to talk about the Million Veteran Program (MVP), VA genetic research and why your help and involvement is key to making a difference in the future of medicine.
Since launching in 2011, over 835,000 Veteran partners have joined this national research program to learn how genes, lifestyle and military exposures affect health and illness.
Watch the full video below to learn what it means to be part of the Million Veteran Program (MVP) and get answers to all your questions.
Experts Discuss the Million Veteran Program
Cherissa Jackson, AMVETS chief medical officer, moderated the event. She was joined by Dr. Suma Muralidhar, MVP program director; Dr. Philp Tsao, MVP researcher; and Natalie Morales, a Veteran and MVP participant, as well as a coordinator for the program.
The panel discussed why it is so important for Veterans to enroll in the program, how the groundbreaking research will impact individual Veterans, and how participant’s information is protected every step of the way.
The event started with Jackson: “I understand the importance of research and to know that this was happening at VA just made me smile. It made me happy to know that they were concerned on this level to find out what is going on in our Veterans’ DNA, to help provide different resources, different plans and health care options.”
Dr. Muralidhar explained how MVP is a research program that focuses on understanding how all these factors impact our health and works to find the causes of certain diseases. He added that MVP is one of the largest healthcare-system-based genomics research programs in the world.
Dr. Tsao discussed how research teams attacked the issues and studied diseases that are common within the Veteran population, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, liver disease, and diseases that may have occurred because of exposure during military service, such as PTSD.
Dr. Muralidhar explained the end goal: “In the future, if a Veteran goes to the doctor, the doctor can have all of this information at hand and can answer the questions, ‘What disease is this Veteran at higher risk for?’, ‘What can we do to prevent it?’, or ‘What medication is most appropriate for this Veteran?’, so you can personalize or customize treatment to your individual factors.”
More women are needed in genetic research
Natalie Morales, a Marine Corps Combat Veteran and mother of two, joined the panel to talk about her experience in the program, particularly the importance of medical research focusing on the experiences of female Veterans like herself, and how she hopes her data will one day give Veteran women the personalized health care they deserve.
“There simply aren’t enough female Veterans representing our health needs within VA and research,” Morales said. “This is exactly why I joined. Unless more women like me and you step up and contribute to research, our mental and physical health needs will never fully be understood.”
To learn more and enroll today, visit mvp.va.gov or call 866-441-6075, and watch the full video above to see how your involvement can make a difference. Your consent to join the Million Veteran Program (MVP) and a vial of your blood is all that is needed. You do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to sign up. Simply visit www.mvp.va.gov or call 866-441-6075 to make an appointment.
Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for VA’s National Veterans Outreach office.