More than 400,000 Veterans sign up for innovative research program


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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. 

Author

Melissa Heintz

- Melissa Heintz joined the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team as a public affairs specialist in October 2015. She grew up on an Army base in Japan before her family relocated to Hawaii. She holds a degree in Journalism/Mass Communications and Spanish from Seattle University. Melissa has served as a public affairs specialist with Navy Region Hawaii Fleet and Family Readiness and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. In December 2015, Melissa commissioned in the Rhode Island Air National Guard where she serves as a public affairs officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing.

Comments

  1. Jeffery Stephen Coffman    

    I was a MEDVOL in 1975 as a subject with the Edgewood Arsenal Experiments. This too was confidential. Then years later I received a call from a researcher who wanted to ask me questions about my participation in those experiments and my health.

    These were the same experiments that for years the VA denied existed. Then when it came out in the news, the VA claimed I was not involved. Then when I did a Freedom of Information Act Request and sent the files to the VA (several times) the VA repeatedly claimed my file was lost/transferred/etc. Now the VA is ignoring my claim.

    About 6 months ago I received a call from the VA informing me that an Assistant Secretary read one of my posts and was giving my claim special review. Nothing since then.

    Do as you will. But one question: Do you trust the VA/federal government?

  2. Larry W. Meeks    

    Can anyone truthfully say they trust our government enough to do this with them ??????? I can’t….Especially the VA ??????? They can’t take care of what’s on their plate right now !!!!! How are they able to make this work ??????

  3. Hector Cantu    

    I totally Agree with Larry Meeks. I was asked by my doctor in the Va Clinic to go for a scan on May 6, 2014, but when going to my doctors appointment – he cancelled out appointment while I was waiting to see him. I asked to be rescheduled, but never got to see my doctor again. On Dec 4, 2015, I was told to go for another Scan on my stomach, but the First Choice people told them while waiting to be seen for my scan which I mentioned to the the first choice people that I had gone for one back sometime ago and never seen by doctor. The First choice people then cancelled my appointment and asked to go back to the clinic. I went home and called First choice to asked them what was going on having me go for a scan then cancelling after commenting that one had already been done and doctor never saw me from those results.

    These are the type of mix-ups the VA doctors and the scheduled appointment are being mismanaged by people in the VA not able to confirm exams completed and appointment cancelled by their doctors – creating this fictitious accounts of the Veteran not being supportive. VA Clinics are trying to clear up their flagrant mistakes on the shoulders of the Veteran, instead of Doctors taking full responsibilities in their own mix-ups. The only doctors appointments I have been given outstanding service is from Dr. Barnett – Podiatrist. My VA Doctor has not seen me in over two years and that seems to be Okay with them. I am not satisfied with their neglect on my health care. I have dental problems, pre-diabetic and the poor eyesight due to glaucoma. I have no ability to meet with my eye doctors in Harlengin VA clinic since its over three hours away, and the transportation van service does not meet with my days of appointments. Va Clinic in my home in Laredo, Texas does not supply me with anymore diabetic supplies to monitor my diabetes and do not provide me a doctor to see in a regular basis. Along I do not qualify for dental work on all my filling falling off since I am merely 10% disable and must be 100% disabled to get dental coverage.

    The VA does not care that I am unemployed and do not have the ability to get dental work , eye doctor local vouchers and local doctor diabetes monitoring my health in a regular basis. They just assume to see me just die on my own illnesses , because they are not doing anything to start seeing me in a regular basis. They just rather make it seem like I am following their appointments, when their doctors are creating these dilemmas by not following up on scheduled appointments already completed – blaming the veteran on information that is totally wrong.

    I see your point Meeks. How could the VA consider Research programs, when they can’t have their Doctor’s followup on their patients current appointments.

  4. Cheryl Gross Thomas    

    I completely understand Hector! I swear that sometimes it feels as if the VA Healthcare System is trying to kill me by not managing my care in an appropriate way. I never get to see a doctor unless it’s a civilian doctor who the VA refers me to or the ones in our local Emergency Room that I see for my increasing decline in my health.And do you know why?

    Our VA Clinic doesn’t even have a doctor! There are only nurses and Nurse Practitioners. That’s it! I started having digestive problems about 3-5 yrs. ago. I had a great Nurse Practitioner Provider who was very concerned about my Health & would get things done that needed to be done. She referred me to a civilian Digestive Specialty Clinic who was following me. That’s when they started seeing serious conditions arise. My long term provider was suddenly snatched from my arms. I knew such great, professionalism showed to me couldn’t last. Not at the VA!! I was transferred to another Nurse Practitioner that surely believed in being a desk nurse. She hardly ever examined me and expected me to tell her what was going on and then she’d write for another dang pill! This went on for some time. No wonder why I am suffering with a bleeding ulcer now. When I requested another consult back to my Digestive Specialist, I was denied!

    Today, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve been admitted to a local hospital. Am I getting any help from the VA? Absolutely Not! Is the VA going to pay those bills? Of course not! Why? Because I had to have prior approval first. Most of the hospitalizations were through the Emergency Room. The nearest VA Facility that has a true hospital is 2 hrs. away.

    Using one of the apps on the MyHealthVet.com site, I was able to obtain copies of the progress notes written and other info such as lab/test results. There were items listed that I had no idea about! Notes that stated I was advised about my diagnosis (of which I had no idea), physical exam notes (which too hardly ever occurred) and downright lies! But who’s going to believe me? Most likely, only another Veteran.

    I too see where you’re coming from Meeks. Instead of Research that may help future Veterans, why not improve the quality of health care for those of us who have already served our country? And get us some doctor’s please?

  5. richard wilson    

    i am so sickand tired of fighting the va for my dual clothing allowance. i am tired of all the lies from the houston va hospital that i have proof of, ive been screwed over and almost killed in that hospital. my name is richard wilson. Look up my secure messaging how they talk to me, the worst prostetic dept ever cant read simple records makes you do notice of disageements and appealed out of spite they are cowards and sneek out the back after you wait all day to see them

  6. David Portuese    

    Dr. Alien Roswelley here. Earth people strange creatures

  7. Bud Henry    

    I find it interesting, but those of us who are in the Military, Retired under age 65 (not disabled) or Retired over 65 and use Tricare, or Medicare/Tricare for Life (TFL), or a Commercial Health Insurance from a Current Job are not participants. While a few of the above may use the VA, most don’t, especially Retirees over 65 since the Medicare/TFL combination is virtually cost free including Up Front Costs, Co-Pays and Drug Costs. The out of pocket for extremely good Medical Insurance in that combination is unbeatable – a true Cadillac Plan though not Classified as such.

    I for one would be happy to give a blood sample. Since I was in for 22 + 4 years, I spent many years in Service of medical interest to the VA.

  8. George Hale    

    The VA needs to go back to Congress, and admit they made a big mistake by asking the fee basis, and contract services be included in with the choice program. I have been waiting months, to see a doctor, that I had an appointment with back in the beginning of November. The appointment was canceled a few days before, stating that I had to now go through the new choice program. Since then, I have been waiting on the local VA to input me into the choice program (How backed up can they be?).

  9. robert gaspar    

    we are thousands veterans here in the Philippines and we have a VA Regional office here in Manila Philippines and I am one of them, anyway I have few things to see about these VA office.
    1. we are Vietnam and Desert Storm veterans and I am desert storm veteran and I send my applications for disability which I am entitle and meet all the requirements, and also read the VA law and regulations that is in posted in the website and stated very clear and so I apply for the benefits. and in the results was denied it seems that either don’t know the regulations and there job, nor understand the language or don’t care so my applications was denied, I highly suggested that these regional office must be inspected to checked and what seems to be the problems.
    3. my friend was Vietnam veterans and help him to apply his benefits while we are in the Manila VA regional office he was so sick and I asked the nurse for assistance that he needs help and there answer was to bring my friends in to the civilian hospital, now few days letter my friends was deed and these VA office make me sick and so mad and we don’t have nothing for assistance. two of my friends that was been Vietnam the were deed now few weeks ago and there benefits was denied because these people here in these office and who ever in charges is the don’t care what so ever. I highly suggested to checked these VA regional office and there are so many service member that needs these benefits are we are dying and we dont even get our benefits that is what we deserve please help. thank you

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