On May 12, VA and American Veterans (AMVETS) hosted a Facebook Live to talk about the Million Veteran Program (MVP), VA genetic research and why your help and involvement is key to making a difference in the future of medicine.

Since launching in 2011, over 835,000 Veteran partners have joined this national research program to learn how genes, lifestyle and military exposures affect health and illness.

Watch the full video below to learn what it means to be part of the Million Veteran Program (MVP) and get answers to all your questions.

Experts Discuss the Million Veteran Program

Cherissa Jackson, AMVETS chief medical officer, moderated the event. She was joined by Dr. Suma Muralidhar, MVP program director; Dr. Philp Tsao, MVP researcher; and Natalie Morales, a Veteran and MVP participant, as well as a coordinator for the program.

The panel discussed why it is so important for Veterans to enroll in the program, how the groundbreaking research will impact individual Veterans, and how participant’s information is protected every step of the way.

The event started with Jackson: “I understand the importance of research and to know that this was happening at VA just made me smile. It made me happy to know that they were concerned on this level to find out what is going on in our Veterans’ DNA, to help provide different resources, different plans and health care options.”

Dr. Muralidhar explained how MVP is a research program that focuses on understanding how all these factors impact our health and works to find the causes of certain diseases. He added that MVP is one of the largest healthcare-system-based genomics research programs in the world.

Dr. Tsao discussed how research teams attacked the issues and studied diseases that are common within the Veteran population, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, liver disease, and diseases that may have occurred because of exposure during military service, such as PTSD.

Dr. Muralidhar explained the end goal: “In the future, if a Veteran goes to the doctor, the doctor can have all of this information at hand and can answer the questions, ‘What disease is this Veteran at higher risk for?’, ‘What can we do to prevent it?’, or ‘What medication is most appropriate for this Veteran?’, so you can personalize or customize treatment to your individual factors.”

More women are needed in genetic research

Natalie Morales, a Marine Corps Combat Veteran and mother of two, joined the panel to talk about her experience in the program, particularly the importance of medical research focusing on the experiences of female Veterans like herself, and how she hopes her data will one day give Veteran women the personalized health care they deserve.

“There simply aren’t enough female Veterans representing our health needs within VA and research,” Morales said. “This is exactly why I joined. Unless more women like me and you step up and contribute to research, our mental and physical health needs will never fully be understood.”

To learn more and enroll today, visit mvp.va.gov or call 866-441-6075, and watch the full video above to see how your involvement can make a difference. Your consent to join the Million Veteran Program (MVP) and a vial of your blood is all that is needed. You do not need to be enrolled in VA health care to sign up. Simply visit www.mvp.va.gov or call 866-441-6075 to make an appointment.


Bronwyn Emmet is a public affairs specialist for VA’s National Veterans Outreach office.

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30 Comments

  1. Author May 27, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Participation in MVP is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. Private information is securely coded.
    MVP researchers need to identify your samples and information so they can look in your health records, contact you again, or destroy your samples if you withdraw. Only the authorized research staff and limited authorized VA staff will have access to the code and be able to connect you with your information and samples. To learn more how we protect Veterans’ confidentiality and privacy, please see our FAQs at: https://www.mvp.va.gov/webapp/mvp-web-participant/#/public/faq
    And we share your interest in providing health information back to Veterans in the program and their families. This is something we hope to do in the future and are testing out through a new study on inherited high cholesterol. Here’s a story on a genetic counselor in this study, who helps MVP Veterans if they appear to have inherited a genetic marker for high cholesterol: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85996/combining-science-service-va-genetic-counselor/. We hope this is the first of many more studies where we share genetic test results back with Veterans.

  2. Melanie Ann Clark May 26, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    You want me to enroll in the Million Vets Program? So you can study my genes and tell me my disability runs in my family and was not service connected? Thanks but no thanks.

  3. EETag May 20, 2021 at 10:51 am

    To the author: is there a FAQ? I’m sure many of my questions are common. I don’t want to watch a 30+ minute conference.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:42 pm

      Yes, you can find the FAQ here: https://www.mvp.va.gov/webapp/mvp-web-participant/#/public/faq. If you still have questions about the Million Veteran Program, and what it means to enroll, please call 866-441-6075 to speak with one of MVP’s staff members. They’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      Yes, you can find the FAQ here: https://www.mvp.va.gov/webapp/mvp-web-participant/#/public/faq. If you still have questions about the Million Veteran Program, and what it means to enroll, please call 866-441-6075 to speak with one of MVP’s staff members. They’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:54 pm

      Yes, you can find the FAQ here: https://www.mvp.va.gov/webapp/mvp-web-participant/#/public/faq. If you still have questions about the Million Veteran Program, and what it means to enroll, please call 866-441-6075 to speak with one of MVP’s staff members. They’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

  4. John Wax May 20, 2021 at 7:43 am

    I joined MVP years ago, but have yet to see any data or results of the study.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:43 pm

      Hi John, as we make new scientific discoveries using the scientific data from MVP, we will share that information with you by posting any updates on current research to the Science Corner page. Our Resources page has additional topics, such as MVP in the news and upcoming events and program updates. We also send an annual newsletter to Veterans in our program with research updates and related stories on MVP from the previous year. If you haven’t received this newsletter, please call 866-441-6075 so we can make sure you get the newest edition this fall.

  5. Lydia Bezou-Hojnacki May 19, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    I’m a participant for many years, but I don’t know how my info is being used or whether it actually is being studied somewhere. What happens every time we see a doctor or have tests/radiology done?

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:44 pm

      Hi Lydia, as we make new scientific discoveries using the scientific data from MVP, we will share that information with you through our website and through our newsletters. Visit the Science Corner page for information on current projects. Our Resources page has additional topics, such as MVP in the news and upcoming events and program updates. Information from your health records will be obtained on an ongoing basis and added to the VA MVP Central Research Database to follow your health and care. All your information will be labeled with a code that does not identify you directly.

  6. P S Renz May 19, 2021 at 8:06 pm

    You lost me when I learned that the risk of giving up my DNA information was not repaid with any health information that would benefit myself or my family.

    You say there is no risk, but that code is connected to my information, and ultimately, my family’s genetic information. So no. Veteran’s, generally speaking, are a lower income group, which is why we are at risk for being used/abused. I’m not offering myself and my family again.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:46 pm

      Participation in MVP is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. Private information is securely coded.
      MVP researchers need to identify your samples and information so they can look in your health records, contact you again, or destroy your samples if you withdraw. Only the authorized research staff and limited authorized VA staff will have access to the code and be able to connect you with your information and samples. To learn more how we protect Veterans’ confidentiality and privacy, please see our FAQs at: https://www.mvp.va.gov/webapp/mvp-web-participant/#/public/faq
      And we share your interest in providing health information back to Veterans in the program and their families. This is something we hope to do in the future and are testing out through a new study on inherited high cholesterol. Here’s a story on a genetic counselor in this study, who helps MVP Veterans if they appear to have inherited a genetic marker for high cholesterol: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85996/combining-science-service-va-genetic-counselor/. We hope this is the first of many more studies where we share genetic test results back with Veterans.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      Participation in MVP is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. Private information is securely coded.
      MVP researchers need to identify your samples and information so they can look in your health records, contact you again, or destroy your samples if you withdraw. Only the authorized research staff and limited authorized VA staff will have access to the code and be able to connect you with your information and samples. To learn more how we protect Veterans’ confidentiality and privacy, please see our FAQs at: https://www.mvp.va.gov/webapp/mvp-web-participant/#/public/faq
      And we share your interest in providing health information back to Veterans in the program and their families. This is something we hope to do in the future and are testing out through a new study on inherited high cholesterol. Here’s a story on a genetic counselor in this study, who helps MVP Veterans if they appear to have inherited a genetic marker for high cholesterol: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85996/combining-science-service-va-genetic-counselor/. We hope this is the first of many more studies where we share genetic test results back with Veterans.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      Participation in MVP is completely voluntary and you can withdraw at any time. Private information is securely coded.
      MVP researchers need to identify your samples and information so they can look in your health records, contact you again, or destroy your samples if you withdraw. Only the authorized research staff and limited authorized VA staff will have access to the code and be able to connect you with your information and samples. To learn more how we protect Veterans’ confidentiality and privacy, please see our FAQs at: https://www.mvp.va.gov/webapp/mvp-web-participant/#/public/faq
      And we share your interest in providing health information back to Veterans in the program and their families. This is something we hope to do in the future and are testing out through a new study on inherited high cholesterol. Here’s a story on a genetic counselor in this study, who helps MVP Veterans if they appear to have inherited a genetic marker for high cholesterol: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85996/combining-science-service-va-genetic-counselor/. We hope this is the first of many more studies where we share genetic test results back with Veterans.

  7. Kemener m whalen May 19, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    I responded .to the Million Vets program in December . It seems very worthwhile .

  8. Paul Rodriguez Zepeda May 19, 2021 at 3:51 pm

    I am a member of the VA’s million Vets program and am also a member of Ancestry.com. would it be possible to combine both for a better result in diagnosis and share the results? Please let me know and how to make that feasable. Thanks!!

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Hi Paul, MVP will not be able to tell individual partners the results of any tests. Any of your personal information, such as SSN or date of birth, are removed from your DNA sample and health information and combined with data from other people in the project.

      However, we share your interest in providing health information back to Veterans in the program and their families. This is something we hope to do in the future and are testing out through a new study on inherited high cholesterol. Here’s a story on a genetic counselor in this study, who helps MVP Veterans if they appear to have inherited a genetic marker for high cholesterol: https://blogs.va.gov/VAntage/85996/combining-science-service-va-genetic-counselor/. We hope this is the first of many more studies where we share genetic test results back with Veterans.

  9. Olga Sheaffer May 19, 2021 at 10:33 am

    I am a Vietnam veteran. I would like to participate in the generics program.

  10. Olga Sheaffer May 19, 2021 at 10:09 am

    I am a Vietnam veteran. I want to participate in these program.

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:47 pm

      Thank you for your interest! Simply visit http://www.mvp.va.gov or call 866-441-6075 to learn more and enroll today. Your consent to join the Million Veteran Program (MVP) and a vial of your blood is all that is needed.

  11. Olga Sheaffer May 19, 2021 at 10:06 am

    I am a Vietnam veteran. I was not aware of the MVP program, I am interested in participating. I think there should be some kind of communication from the VA as to programs as important as this one.

  12. Marjee Zeier May 19, 2021 at 9:38 am

    The appearance of pushing “diversity” matters more than individuals. I’m sick to my back teeth of this imposition of perversion of virtue.

    • P Renz May 20, 2021 at 2:07 am

      I believe both can be done, don’t you? Why
      do you dislike diversity? We white people
      are awfully boring and terribly obnoxious in
      large groups; diversity is necessary for our race
      in order that we not all become terminally rude
      and uninteresting, at least 38% already are
      and the rest of us must change or fail!

  13. Marjee Zeier May 19, 2021 at 9:30 am

    You want questions and comments? FYI not everyone has facebook, or wants it. How many of your target audience is excluded for not being a participant in that particular social media platform?

    [Editor: The video of the event, as embedded into this particular blog post, does not require a Facebook account for viewing.]

    • Mika James May 19, 2021 at 11:04 am

      Amen Marker, I agree with you. My life has been destroyed by Social Media because of their security breaches. I, like many others, have chosen to cut off these links and try to put my life back together again. Sadly, too many services are posting on, and can only be contacted on, platforms like Facebook. Equal opportunity and accessibility? Right

    • P Renz May 20, 2021 at 2:09 am

      I don’t have a Facebook either and yet here we both are, posting. Amazing!

      [Editor: Please watch the embedded video in this blog post! It doesn’t require a Facebook account.]

      • P Renz May 21, 2021 at 1:40 pm

        Thank you Editor, that was my point.

  14. Loraine Goodhue May 19, 2021 at 7:58 am

    My husband of 59 years was in the program and just recently passed. The VA meant everything to him. He was there to serve his country but also to serve those who came after him in anyway he could. He had two grandsons presently serving that just may need some kind of input from his records at some future date.
    I have worked with veterans all my life, have many in my family who also served.
    Two questions:
    1. Can spouses of Veterans join this group?
    2. Is there anyway to get his genetic history to unfold his family background for our genealogy. He was going to do a DNA but the Lord took him home before our kit arrived.
    If I can be part of your group I will be happy to help in any way I can, so I can carry on a great military legacy and honor my husband.
    Most sincerely,
    Lori

    • Author May 27, 2021 at 1:51 pm

      Lori, we are so sorry for your loss and are touched to hear of your husband’s participation in our program.

      At this time, MVP is open to anyone who can prove they are a Veteran. It is not required to be enrolled in VA health care to sign up. In the future, we hope to expand this research opportunity to loved ones as well, as your health, exposures and life experiences are also shaped by those who serve.

      Unfortunately, at this time MVP will not be able to share any results. Testing on your sample(s), including DNA (genetic tests) or other molecules derived from it, is done for research purposes only, aimed at improving the health of future generations. MVP will not provide any information that will have a direct benefit. Because they have no clear meaning at this time, these genetic test results are not reported to the Veteran or the Veteran’s doctor or placed in the health record. The information from their blood sample will be combined with information from other people in the project. MVP will write about the combined information gathered. Any talks or papers about MVP will not identify Veterans.

      If you have any other questions, please call us at 866-441-6075.

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