Objective: Help improve health care for Veterans - Veterans Health Administration
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Objective: Help improve health care for Veterans

A nurse prepares to draw blood from a female Veteran

Participation does not affect Veterans' access to health care or benefits.

By Hans Petersen
Thursday, December 11, 2014

VA’s Million Veteran Program (MVP) aims to be one of the largest databases of its kind in the United States to help us learn how genes affect health in order to improve health care for Veterans.

To date, nearly 330,000 Veterans have joined the program. We need your help. Participation is entirely voluntary and will not in any way affect Veterans’ access to health care or benefits.

The Million Veteran Program is an important partnership between VA and Veterans to establish a database of genetic, military exposure, lifestyle, and health information. What we learn from the research may lead to new ways of preventing and treating illnesses in Veterans.

What does participation involve?

The goal of the Million Veteran Program is to partner with Veterans receiving services in the VA health care system who volunteer to share their health information, as well as genetic material.

Active involvement in this program includes:

  • Filling out surveys through the mail
  • Completing a one-time study visit to provide a blood sample for genetic analyses at a participating VA Medical Center
  • Permitting authorized MVP staff to securely access VA and VA-linked medical and health information, including past and future health records
  • Agreeing to future contact

What are genes and how do they affect health?

  • Through interactions with our environment and various lifestyle factors, genes may contribute to our risk for disease, including common illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  • In fact, genes may be a critical part of why some people get diseases and others do not. Genes may also affect how we respond to certain medications. Because of their genetic make-up, some people may respond better than others to a particular treatment, or experience different side effects.

How does this important research help Veterans?

  • Veterans — and in fact all Americans — stand to benefit greatly as researchers learn more about the effects of genes on health.
  • 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.
  • The Million Veteran Program will lead to new knowledge about which genes put people at risk for certain diseases, and which ones affect how people respond to treatment. This knowledge may eventually lead to better treatments and preventive measures for many diseases, including common illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

I Have Some Questions

Understandably, you should have questions about participating in any study. We have provided answers to these and many other questions on our MVP website:

Contact Information

For more information about participating in the Million Veteran Program, visit www.research.va.gov/mvp. Or call, toll-free, (866) 441-6075.