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400,000 volunteer veterans help to benefit others

In a recent press release, the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs stated that the Million Veteran Program (MVP) has broken the 400,000 veteran enrollment mark. This milestone shows good cause to believe that the MVP program is well on its way to becoming the world's largest database of military and medical records.

The main goal of MVP is to compile enough information to begin to understand the role genetics plays in overall health and disease. With a more comprehensive understanding of how genes, lifestyle and military experience change an individual's health, the VA hopes to have a positive effect on the health care of veterans and others.

Veterans that volunteer for MVP can visit any one of the 50 VA hospitals in the nation supporting the program. They then donate blood that is used to extract DNA for testing. Through the combination of their DNA profile, health and life history, and periodical lifestyle surveys, researchers compile data to study. Some of the areas this information is used to study are those that most often affect military servicemen and women such as post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and kidney and heart disease. While these conditions don't only affect veterans, these studies have the potential to benefit millions.

Earlier in 2015, President Obama introduced the Precision Medicine Initiative, which is part of MVP. The focus of these programs is to change health care from treating the masses collectively to treating each patient individually based on their genes and lifestyle. These programs have the potential to offer customizable care that is tailored to fit every patient's needs.

One concern aging veterans may have is the cost of such treatments. For individuals living on a fixed income and concerned with their benefits or the rising cost of health care, speaking to an elder law attorney with knowledge about veteran benefits may help.

Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, "VA's Million Veteran Program hits 400K Milestone," Oct. 8, 2015

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