Iowa veterans are being encouraged to take part in a national voluntary research program on veterans who get their care in the Veterans Administration Healthcare System.
Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs executive director, Robert King, says it’s called the Million Veteran Program.
“It was initiated by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in 2012 to gain a database of genetics looking at military exposure, an individual’s lifestyle and various health information so that they can do studies,” King explains. He says the studies are an important part of helping veterans.
“They’d like to be able to use the study information to determine some of the health programs in the future. See how genes affect such things as the development of PTSD in combat exposed veterans,” King says. “There’s another study that has to do with the influence on the development of Gulf War Illness for those Gulf War era people. There’s another one that has to due with examining the genetic risk factors for the chronic use of alcohol, tobacco and opiates.” He says they are seeking Iowa veterans to take part to help them reach their sign up goal.
“The program has been going since 2012 and they have enrolled about 500-thousand people as of two months ago. They’d like to get to one million,” King says.
The VA in Iowa City is one of the 60 centers where veterans can take part. He says Iowa City was chosen as one of the locations because it is one of the top ten research locations in the U.S. in the VA research program. King says you need to make an appointment to come in and take part in the research.
“It only takes about 20 minutes as I understand it, they fill out some surveys about health and health related behaviors, provide a blood sample,” according to King. If you are a user of the VA health care system, you can enroll by calling toll-free 1-866-441-6075 to schedule your appointment.