"Million Veteran Program" Builds Momentum at White River Junction VA

Aug 5, 2015

Enrollment in a program that tracks the genes of military veterans has picked up the pace at a local VA hospital.

The Million Veteran Program, or MVP, is a nationwide effort to put into a database the genetic information of one million veterans. Researchers will use the database to find genes that affect conditions like diabetes or PTSD.

The program has been collecting data nationally for several years now, but the VA in White River Junction, Vt., began enrolling veterans from both New Hampshire and Vermont about nine months ago.

The pace of enrollment started slow—about thirty veterans each month—but the past three months have seen triple-digit enrollment numbers. Overall White River Junction has enrolled almost 1,100 veterans.

Brooks Robey is Associate Chief of Staff for Research at the White River Junction VA. He says it can be challenging to get veterans to travel long distances to participate.

"I think the participation levels that we’ve had is a testament to the desire of our veteran population to do this," he says. "They’re very interested in doing it."

Robey says there are enough veterans enrolled nationwide now—400,000 as of this week—that researchers can start using the data, and they probably will begin to do so within the next year.

The VA hospital in Manchester hasn’t begun enrolling patients in the Million Veterans Program yet, but is taking steps now start enrolling veterans "soon."