VA Begins Nationwide Study on the Health of Vietnam Era Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the Vietnam Era Health Retrospective Observational Study (VE-HEROeS), a national study on the health and well-being of Vietnam Veterans, including Blue Water Navy Veterans, as well as Veterans who served elsewhere during the Vietnam Era (1961-1975), and similarly aged U.S. residents who never served in the military.

Beginning this fall, VA will invite approximately 43,000 Vietnam and Vietnam Era Veterans, and approximately 11,000 members of the general U.S. population to participate in VE-HEROeS. Researchers have scientifically selected a random sample of individuals for participation, and are not able to accept volunteers. VA encourages all those who are invited to fully participate in the study.

Because of the small sample size (which was limited because of budget), it is vital that every veteran who receives a survey do their best to fill it out completely and honestly and return it to the Survey Team. Because the Blue Water Navy segment is just a small subset of the overall veteran population, it is even more important that every Survey that goes out to a Blue Water Navy veteran be completed and returned; the higher the return rate, the better the picture of our current health status that can be drawn. This Study can show important 'indications and tendencies' for the health of each cohort, but this Study WILL NOT be a "groundbreaking study of Blue Water Navy health outcomes" as has been previously stated by the Compensation Division of the Veteran Benefits Administration. But even assessing the health trends and tendencies still depends on a high return rate to provide a higher probablilty for whatever data that can be gathered at this point in time. And every survey received will be one additional data point reporting the overall health for each group of Vietnam Era veterans.

All participants in VE-HEROeS will be asked to fill out a questionnaire on their military service, general health, age-related conditions, health care use, and the health experiences of their children and grandchildren. A smaller group will be invited to agree to a medical records review. Topics of special focus for the study include cognition, hepatitis C infection, and neurologic conditions.

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