Million Veteran Program Needs Women Veterans’ Participation

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Dear Fellow PVA Member,

Dedicated service in the military respects no gender boundaries. According to VA estimates, more than 400,000 served during WWII, and approximately 200,000 daughters and mothers served in Iraq and Afghanistan, of which nearly 200 paid the ultimate cost.                                             

Although women veterans total 2,051,484 in the U.S., the number is less than 10% of the entire veteran population. This relatively small ratio is likely the reason women veterans remain underserved in the VA, specifically in gender-specific healthcare such as obstetrics, mental health, and gynecology. This is exacerbated by the growing knowledge gap in biological and medical research that result in far too many misdiagnoses linked to gender differences in drug reactions or, in the case of severely wounded women veterans, how prosthetics are anatomically fitted differently between genders. These realities leave many women veterans feeling as if their veteran-status has become eclipsed by their gender in a system that ostensibly treats their medical needs as an afterthought.

However, a new VA initiative seeks to change that. The Million Veteran Program is recruiting veterans in all special populations, including women, to help advance research that will help validate or debunk assumptions, capture statistics, and discover pathways to approving health care for all veterans. The program’s stated goal is “to enable genomic discoveries that can translate to improvements in healthcare of veterans in the nation at large and to create the foundation for precision medicine and the VA…it aims to build one of the world’s largest databases of genomic, clinical, lifestyle, and military exposure information by enrolling at least one million participants, and is over halfway there.”

This will only be possible if women veterans, once again, answer the call and volunteer to participate, especially those of us whose lives are sustained by specialized services delivered by VA. To enroll in the program, call (866) 441-6075 for an appointment or go to your local VA that is participating in the program and sign up. There is no online sign-up, as you fill out a “Baseline Survey,” provide a blood sample and other pertinent information at the appointment.

For more detailed information about the program and to ensure that is available in your area, please visit our recent post about the Million Veteran Program.                                          

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Anne Robinson
PVA Women’s Healthcare Committee
(210) 632-1263