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Uncle Sam wants DNA

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Researchers hope samples from nearly one million veterans will help cure a variety of diseases. (Source: NBC) Researchers hope samples from nearly one million veterans will help cure a variety of diseases. (Source: NBC)

(NBC) - The Veterans Administration has launched the Million Veteran Program to collect DNA samples from veterans for a new research project.

The goal is for scientists to learn more about how genes affect our health.

For example, why do some vets develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and others in the same combat situation don't?

Scientists will study the DNA to learn more about genetic markers for everything from Alzheimer's disease to schizophrenia.

Cate Bowen served as an Army nurse at Travis Air Force Base and Andrews Air Force Base for six years.

She felt compelled to share here genetic blueprint.

"I am a female veteran and I think it is important to include women in the research. I think my contribution to the million will lead to better research," Bowen said.

Nationwide more than 11,000 veterans have enrolled in the voluntary program.

"We hope to get to a million samples to analyze data across a variety of disorders and ages so we can understand why some vets get disorders and others don't and understand how the risk for disease interacts with experiences," said Dr. Jennifer Hobilyn is the Associate Director of the VA Palo Alto Bipolar and Depression Research Program.

Veteran's personal information will not be identified with their sample.

Dr. Joel Kupersmith, Chief Research and Development Officer with the Department of Veterans affairs said the information from the Million Veteran Program may also one day help us understand more about the role genes play in the development of diabetes, heart disease and mental disorders.

Copyright 2011 NBC. All rights reserved.

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