To date, more than 400,000 Veteran volunteers have donated blood samples to the Million Veteran Program (MVP). Last week, VA Secretary Bob McDonald became number 441,196 to join the innovative research program.
“To me the Million Veteran Program is one of our premier research programs. It’s fundamental to the precision medicine initiative that the president has been leading,” McDonald said. “As a Veteran, you want to keep serving and this is another opportunity to serve.”
MVP is a partnership between the VA and Veterans with the goal of using genome mapping to help Veterans of today, and the future, transform their healthcare. Veterans can volunteer to submit blood samples, which are entered into what is becoming one of the world’s largest medical database. Medical researchers can take the data and use it for studies on diseases like diabetes and cancer, and military-related illnesses, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
Veterans are unique patients. Some have more than 40 years of medical records that followed them from their time in military service through their treatment at VA facilities. With the blood samples provided, researchers can use their extensive medical history to get a precise prognosis of where they’re heading.
Security and confidentiality are a top priority of this program. Samples are stored in a secure VA central research program database and are labeled with a code. Researchers who are approved access to analyze samples and data will not receive the name, address, date of birth or social security number of participating Veterans.
Precision medicine, an initiative announced last year, focuses on healthcare tailored to the individual versus the “one-size-fits-all” approach. Advances in medicine are leading to new discoveries on how diseases are treated based on a person’s genetic makeup. With Million Veteran Program, VA is on the cutting edge of the healthcare system, leading the way as it has done before with other medical discoveries.
“The research that the secretary is now a part of will probably yield information to us for decades to come. This is a quantum leap forward in understanding how genes affect disease,” said Dr. J. Michael Gaziano, one of the MVP principal investigators. “This isn’t just for the health of Veterans. What we learn will benefit mankind, as VA research has done over the decades.” Dr. John Concato, the other MVP principal investigator, added that “By agreeing to join the program, the Veterans who enroll are providing a generous gift to future generations; we can never thank them enough for their participation.”
You can find out more about the Million Veterans Program online at va.gov. Veterans who are users of the VA health care system at one of the enrolling sites are able to participate at this time. Once a site is open for enrollment, Veterans who are users of the VA health care system at that site will receive an invitation by mail to volunteer in MVP. If you are a Veteran who receives health care at an enrolling site but have not received a mailing, you can schedule an appointment by calling toll-free 1-866-441-6075, or walk-in to your local MVP clinic to participate today (directions to the clinics can be found by clicking on a site here). To learn more about what participation involves, click here or call the toll-free number.