The Million Veteran Program is a national, voluntary research program under the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research & Development. MVP aims to partner with Veterans receiving VA healthcare and study how genes affect health and illness. Within the next five to seven years, the program hopes to enroll as many as one million Veteran volunteers. With their enrollment, researchers will be afforded the opportunity to securely study their genetic information resulting in the possible prevention and improvement of various diseases.
Conducting such research may not only lead to new ways of preventing illness for Veterans, but also to new ways of preventing illness for all Americans. The information found from utilizing such sources could help to answer why some Veterans are at a greater risk of developing specific illnesses or why some treatments work for some individuals but do not for others. Questions that could never be answered before could be answered now with the help of Veterans in the VA Healthcare System.
Becoming a volunteer for the program is more than easy. Any Veteran receiving care from the VA healthcare system is eligible for participation. You must complete a one-time study visit to provide a blood sample for genetic analysis at a participating VA Medical Center, permit authorized MVP staff to access information in your medical record on an ongoing basis, fill out a few surveys sent by mail, and agree to future MVP contact. These four simple steps are not only quick and easy, but they could be the key to providing a healthier future for fellow Veterans.
Pallas Wahl, Web Content Manager under the Department of Public Affairs, is a participant of the program. She says, “I volunteered for the MVP program right after returning from Iraq. Cancer runs in my family and both my children are in the military and deployed overseas. I think it’s important to get my DNA in the database for referencing possible disease connections in the future for me and them.” She then goes on to say, “With the mandate for the VA to hire Veterans, it just makes sense that we would be perfect for partnering with this research project.”
Samuel Davis, Clinical Research Study Coordinator and Technician under the Clinical Studies Unit, is also a participant of the program and said, “I try to encourage my fellow vets as well as patients that I see in Osteoporosis Clinic to participate in the MVP Study because I believe that what the study is doing is very important to improving health care and preventative care for not just veterans, but for everyone as a whole. The answer to questions about our genes that the researchers may find will surely affect the entire health care community and hopefully improve how we are all treated for certain illnesses.”
The Million Veteran Program is continuing to expand and recruit volunteers. In fact, on May 1st, 2012, the 50,000th Veteran joined the program making it a very significant milestone in MVP history. Dr. Michael Gaziano, Scientific Director of MAVERIC, believes “VA is taking an unprecedented step to study the effects of genes.” He believes the program is essential to the improvement of the understandings of Veteran health and disease. With a sufficient amount of data, he says such information could help to even predict certain diseases.
Volunteering for such a program can have a largely beneficial impact on the future and future Veterans. The coordinators of the Million Veteran Program are striving to change health as we know it in the hopes of a promising future.
If you are interested in volunteering or have any further questions please feel free to contact the MVP call center at 1-866-441-6075. For more information, you can also visit the MVP website at www.research.va.gov/mvp. Walk-ins are also welcome at the Jamaica Plain campus on the first floor wing E room D1-1499 across from the MRI Department. The MVP study visit takes approximately 20 minutes.