VA is not just a place to receive health care and benefits like the GI Bill. It’s also houses a unique research institution where medical advancements have continuously been made since 1925, like the first liver transplant and the development of the nicotine patch. Now, VA’s research department is rolling with arguably its most ambitious project yet.
The Million Veteran Program (MVP) was launched with a goal to build a database with a million blood samples and medical histories. The database hopes to lead to answers about how genes affect health and illness. In fact, screening, diagnosis, and treatment for some illnesses—such as some forms of cancer—have already been improved through knowledge about the effects of certain genes. A large research database may resolve issues that have baffled physicians for years; why treatments work for some and not for others, why some patients are at greater risk, and how to prevent certain illnesses before they spread.
MVP takes great strides to protect the privacy of every volunteer in the program. All personally identifiable data, like names and Social Security numbers, are stripped from the samples and medical history submissions. Simply put, no one can trace a Veteran back to their sample—there is no need to worry about impacts on care or benefits.
MVP eclipsed 10,000 volunteers, but it needs a larger pool of data to really make strides. If you’d like to help your fellow Vets by being a part of the research solution, check out this site for more information on how to contribute your own sample.