By Peter S. Gaytan
The VA Office of Research and Development has launched the Million Veteran Program (MVP) to better understand how genes affect health and illness. The goal is to improve health care for veterans. The information gathered will help lead to new ways of preventing and treating illnesses in vets, as well as all Americans.
MVP will establish one of the largest databases of genetic and health information, including military exposure and lifestyle. Researchers hope to learn why treatment works for some individuals and not for others, as well as why some people get a certain illness when exposed to a toxin, but others do not.
Participation in the research program is completely voluntary and does not affect a veteran’s access to health care or benefits. Furthermore, safeguards are in place to ensure information security and patient confidentiality. Approved researchers will gain access to the data and to analyze samples but will not be given the name, address, date of birth, or social security number of participating veterans.
If you choose to participate, you will be asked to complete surveys about health and health-related behaviors; provide a blood sample (containing DNA and other substances) that will be stored for future research; fill out an optional health assessment; permit secure access to VA and VA-linked medical and health information, including past and future health records; and allow future contact.
VA hopes that at least one million veterans will volunteer to participate in this program over the next five to seven years. For more information, go to: http://www.research.va.gov/mvp/ or call, toll-free, (866) 441-6075.
Peter S. Gaytan is the author of For Service To Your Country – Updated Edition: The Essential Guide to Getting the Veterans’ Benefits You’ve Earned (Citadel, 2011), available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. He has served as an advocate in securing and protecting the earned benefits of America’s veterans for more than a decade. Gaytan is the Executive Director of the American Legion, the largest veterans service organization in America.
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