VA launches nationwide study on the health of Vietnam Era Veterans

Many Vietnam War veterans suffer from a variety of disabilities that were presumptively caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. (US Army photo)
Many Vietnam War veterans suffer from a variety of disabilities that were presumptively caused by exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides. (US Army photo)

VA researchers are embarking on a new nationwide study to comprehensively evaluate the current health and overall well-being of Vietnam era Veterans as they age.  This November, VA will begin recruiting participants for the Vietnam Era Health Retrospective Observational Study (VE-HEROeS).

"Through VE-HEROeS, VA will be able to answer questions about the long-term health consequences of Vietnam War service, provide VA clinicians with evidence to explain health conditions, and anticipate future needs for VA health care and services," said Dr. Victoria Davey, VA Office of Research and Development staff member, senior researcher for Post Deployment Health Services, and principal investigator on this study.

Study Participant Selection

VE-HEROeS researchers will invite approximately 43,000 Vietnam-era Veterans, including Veterans who served in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and Veterans who served elsewhere during the war, to participate in this study by completing a questionnaire. Researchers will also invite a comparison group of approximately 11,000 members of the general population to participate and complete a similar questionnaire.

Researchers will begin mailing invitations to selected Veterans on November 2, and to invited members of the general population on November 10.

VA is scientifically selecting a sample of individuals for this study. These individuals will represent others with similar characteristics, so researchers cannot accept volunteers. All individuals who are selected for this study are encouraged to participate.

Survey Topics:

This study includes a questionnaire for everyone and medical records review for a smaller group of participants. The VE-HEROeS questionnaire includes the following topics:

  • General health, including neurological conditions, cancer, hypertension, and mental health
  • Experiences with aging, including memory and reasoning
  • Lifestyle, including tobacco use and health care use
  • Military service experience, including combat experience, chemical or other exposures, or no military service for participants from the general U.S. population

Researchers will look closely at neurologic conditions and hepatitis C infection as a part of this study.  Researchers will also describe the health of a population of Vietnam Veterans who served only in the Blue Water Navy and will ask Veterans about health conditions among their descendants that may have been inherited.

Vietnam Veterans have significantly contributed to the study development and planning by serving on the Steering Committee. Learn more about VE-HEROeS at http://www.publichealth.va.gov/epidemiology/studies/heroes/index.asp.

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