This post is part of our SWOG Stories series, a collection of diverse perspectives from doctors, recruiters, members, patient advocates, and others across the Group. You can listen to all of these wonderful conversations here.

“The standard of care for oncology is clinical trials.”

– Stephen Bartlett

In their conversation recorded by StoryCorps, SWOG Cancer Research Network member Stephen Bartlett and SWOG communications manager Wendy Lawton outline the Group’s initiative to bring clinical trials back to veterans.

There are over 40,000 veterans with cancer in the VA system. Once readily available to vets, clinical trial access has diminished to almost none in recent years. There are many reasons for this, according to Stephen, who cites rules and restrictions as some of the biggest barriers, along with limited funds, time, and resources.

SWOG’s V.A. Integration Support Program was started to provide vets with more options. Under the initiative, medical centers receive a one-time $50,000 grant to help enroll veterans in trials. The result has been more veterans getting targeted treatments, immunotherapies, and other cutting-edge medicines. Recently, VA hospitals have leveraged the funding to win larger awards from the National Care Institute.