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Million Veteran Program enrolls 100,000th volunteer

SUN Columnist

The Department of Veterans Affairs Million Veteran Program (MVP) recently enrolled its 100,000th volunteer research participant, and now stands at more than 110,000 enrollees, marking a major milestone in the nearly 90-year history of VA research.

“MVP is a truly historic effort, in terms of both VA research and medical research in general,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “Veterans nationwide are helping to create a database that has the potential to help millions around the country — veteran and non-veteran alike.  They are continuing to serve the nation well beyond the time they stopped wearing the uniform.”

Launched in 2011, MVP is a landmark research effort aimed at better understanding how genes affect health. Up to a million veterans are expected to enroll in the VA study over the next six years. Data and genetic samples collected through the study are stored securely and made available for studies by authorized researchers, with stringent safeguards in place to protect veterans’ private health information. MVP is now at 40 VA medical centers nationwide, with additional VA sites opening for enrollment in the coming year.

With more than 110,000 enrollees to date, MVP already far exceeds the enrollment numbers of any single VA study or research program in the past.

“This milestone has come about thanks to our veteran participants and lots of hard work and dedication on the part of VA researchers and the entire MVP team,” said VA Undersecretary for Health Dr. Robert Petzel.

VA Chief Research and Development Officer Dr. Joel Kupersmith added, “VA could not have achieved this without our altruistic veteran volunteers.” He called MVP “an extremely important partnership that is paving the road toward the world’s largest database of health information and improved health care for future generations.”

MVP provides researchers with a rich resource of genetic, health, lifestyle and military-exposure data collected from questionnaires, medical records and genetic analyses. By combining this information into a single database, MVP promises to advance knowledge about the complex links between genes and health. Authorized researchers are able to use MVP data to help answer important questions on a wide range of health conditions affecting Veterans, from military-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, to common chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

MVP-related discoveries also promise to advance the field of personalized medicine, which aims to tailor medical care based on people’s individual genetic profiles. Personalized medicine is expected to yield more effective treatments and reduce costs, given its emphasis on prevention.

Veterans’ privacy and confidentiality are top priorities in MVP, as in all VA research. Rigorous measures are taken to protect MVP participants’ personal information, including secure storage of data and samples using a bar-code system. Researchers approved for access to MVP data do not receive the name, date of birth, social security number, or address of participating veterans.  Furthermore, authorized researchers conduct their analyses only within VA’s secure, centralized computing environment, known as GenISIS (Genomic Information System for Integrated Science).

Trust Fund

The Trust Fund Grant has directed a change of rules. All requests for travel/lodging reimbursement must have the following: printed copy of appointment, copy of receipt for gas payment and/or receipt of lodging payment. Payment from Trust Fund will be to the amount on receipts: No receipt-no payment.

Ensure you apply for Travel through VAMC Albuquerque, whenever possible.

If a veteran is eligible for VA Travel payments, no reimbursements are authorized through the Trust Fund Grant.

Benefits

For information on VA benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office, located at the Senior Center in the Ross Aragon Community Center.

The office number is 264-4013, fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-3590, and e-mail is raytaylor@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for applications to VA programs or benefits for which the veteran may be entitled to enroll, and for filing in the Archuleta County VSO office.

Meetings

The following veterans groups meet in Pagosa Springs:

American Legion Post 108: second Wednesday of the month, 7 p.m., 287 Hermosa Street.

Veterans for Veterans: every Tuesday, 10 a.m., Quality Inn.

Women’s Group of Spouses of Veterans: every other Monday, 6 p.m., St. Patrick’s Episcopal Parish Hall, 225 S. Pagosa Blvd. Contact Charlotte, 731-1025.

Point Man Ministry (veterans): every Thursday, 9 a.m., Buffalo Inn.

Contacts

Durango VA Outpatient Clinic: 247-2214.

Farmington VA Center: (505) 327-9684.

The Veterans Crisis Line offers free, confidential support to veterans in crisis, as well as their family and friends 24/7, 365 days a year. Call (800) 273-8255, chat online, or text 838255.

This story was posted on December 6, 2012.