The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently launched efforts to increase participation of women veterans in its Million Veteran Program (MVP). One of the world’s largest genetic research programs, MVP collects genetic, military exposure, lifestyle and health information from veterans who volunteer to donate DNA samples.
As the number of women veterans grows, so does the need for genetic research focused on women’s health issues.
“While there are roughly 2 million living women veterans, only 75,000 are currently enrolled in MVP representing only 9% of the MVP cohort,” VA Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs Kayla Williams said in a March press release. “If more women veterans consider joining, VA researchers would have a larger gene pool to be able to study women’s health in greater detail and offer women the specialized care they need and deserve.”
Presently, MVP is researching genetic and clinical markers that will be able to predict the risk of breast cancer in women veterans. An increased number of participants could expand research to include treatments and prevention of diseases like depression, hypertension, heart disease and others.
In 2017, The American Legion encouraged veterans to enroll in MVP, helping push the program past 580,000 samples. More than 830,000 veterans have joined the program to date.