by Jongwoo Y
This article talks about how veterans of the United States Military have started become a huge factor in the medical field by being a part of a huge medical database set up by Veteran Affairs. The program, known as Million Veteran Program, is one of the most advanced of its kind because the VA has actually used computer databases for their patients for over 20 years; a large amount of time more than most hospitals have (Standen 2011). Through this database, many veterans returning from war give their blood samples and take physicals; this data is then put into the database and analyzed by doctors to better understand the causes of different types of conditions such as PTSD, suicide screening, alcohol and substance abuse, traumatic brain injury, and depression (Standen 2011). The scientists behind this program look beyond the veteran’s DNA and actually investigate their diet and environmental factors as well. Carl Schuler, a veteran of the recent Iraq War, understands why this research must be done much too well. Though he was able to return home unscathed, his best friend was struck by a road side bomb and ended up with burns on 80% of his body. This has left Carl in a very emotional state and he cannot justify why he was able to come home while his friends is left to suffer for the rest of his life.
This article is very cool in that it is using a database as a useful tool for society. This database doesn’t only hold customer information or helps a business run a more streamlined operation, it actually is going to help save lives of some of the most important people in the nation: our veterans. Through helpful and willing veteran volunteers, the information that is gained may be able to effect the lives of future soldiers and hopefully can influence the lives of the current veterans suffering from PTSD. Another important thing that the article mentioned was that customer names would be held as private information. This would make it so that insurance companies would not have any access to the information the VA receives to their databases from the veterans.
Reading this article made me realize how important a database can be. It isn’t always just about number crunching or having customer information ready to be accessed in one second. Databases hold the capacity to be used for some of the most important things in our daily lives. Personally, I have many friends that have been to Iraq and most of them seem okay. However, if they are feeling any side effects from the war, a program like this may be able to help them out in the future.
Standen, A. (2011, November 14). Veterans to create world. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2011/11/14/142184307/veterans-to-create-worlds-largest-medical-database