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The Front Line
The Front Line: Charles D. Blanke, MD, SWOG Chair

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Serving the Military Veterans Who Have Served Us So Well

Oct. 2, 2015 - This week, we announced a big win -- for military veterans, for SWOG, and hopefully for the NCI. Five VA medical centers across the U.S. have been selected to receive $25,000 each from The Hope Foundation to expand access to cooperative group cancer trials. This means, simply, that more veterans can be offered the latest studies right in their local VA hospital. Clinical trials are standard of care for cancer treatment -- and our veterans deserve nothing less.

The total of $125,000 in seed funds come from the new VA Integration Support Program, created by SWOG and Hope, which aims to enroll more veterans in our trials -- or any trial run through the National Clinical Trials Network (NCTN). We had a lot of great applications for these competitive awards, and selected:'

  • Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Little Rock, Ark.
  • Cincinnati VA Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Durham VA Medical Center, Durham, N.C.
  • VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, Denver, Colo.
  • VA New York Harbor Healthcare System, Manhattan Campus, New York, N.Y.

(To get the full scoop, see our press release at http://swog.org/Visitors/Download/Media/VAAwardsPressRelease.pdf)

The new VA awards are just part of our larger effort to serve veterans facing cancer. Just last month, we welcomed Tye Lee to our San Antonio operations center. A key function of Tye's member support role is to serve as a navigator for VA medical center staff, advising them on the logistical, regulatory and financial issues they face when participating in our NCTN studies.

As previously discussed here, we have also formed a partnership with the VA New England Clinical Trial Network (CTN) and the Massachusetts Veterans Epidemiology Research and Information Center, or MAVERIC, a Boston-based network which includes five New England VA medical centers. MAVERIC is now a SWOG member. This means that veterans from Maine to Connecticut can choose to take part in our trials -- or any NCTN trial.

For veterans, this all means more opportunities when it comes to their cancer care. For the NCI and SWOG, it means we can make positive changes faster. I personally need to thank Dana Sparks, head of our operations office, Steve Bartlett, head of our VA Working Group, Jo Horn and her team at Hope, and Dr. Michael Kelley and Dr. Louis Fiore from the VA for making this all happen. I am grateful for their service to SWOG -- and to our veterans.


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