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Greater Fertility Care Options Becoming Available for US Veterans

Cate Douglass
Historically, men and women who are currently serving or who have previously served in the United States military have limited treatment options when it comes to infertility resulting from service-related injury.
Historically, men and women who are currently serving or who have previously served in the United States military have limited treatment options when it comes to infertility resulting from service-related injury. Several organizations, including CNY Fertility Centers and Congress, have been pushing for new, free care options for men and women seeking infertility care.

The Senate recently challenged a nearly 30-year old ban in which the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was prohibited from paying for in vitro fertilization, or IVF, treatments among military veterans. The Department of Defense’s TRICARE system does cover this treatment option, though only for active service men and women.

The Senate bill, recently passed by a vote of 89-8, will not only allow military veterans with groin and reproductive injuries access to fertility treatments through the VA, but it also grants the VA a 3% increase in funding by giving the department $73.5 billion over the course of 2016.

Additionally, the Department of Defense (DoD) is kicking off a pilot preservation program that will start covering the freezing of sperm and eggs for troops who want to preserve their gametes for future use. The program will be offered to any service member requesting the procedure as well as troops anticipating deployment and is a means of allowing these service men and women the flexibility to decide when they want to start a family.

This new program comes at a time when advocacy groups have been pressing for improved fertility services, especially when infertility occurs among those who have been directly wounded during service. Many services and plans, including TRICARE and the VA, may offer treatment options, but they do not cover IVF or intrauterine insemination (IUI) completely.

Only 5 military treatment facilities offer specialized services for reproductive technologies and are located in San Antonio, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Bethesda, Maryland; San Diego, California; and Tacoma, Washington. As a means of making IVF and IUI more accessible for both active military personnel and veterans, the CNY Fertility Center announced on May 26 that it will provide another location for members in the northeast region.

The organization said that it will now offer free IVF and IUI treatments to US military service men and women whose injuries during service resulted in infertility.

"Our servicemen and women make great sacrifices for our nation—many return from battle with severe emotional and physical wounds," Founder and Director Robert Kiltz, MD, said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that the DoD and VA health systems do not cover needed advanced fertility treatments to overcome physical challenges suffered through the brutality of combat. This is one small way that the CNY Fertility family can give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much to keep us safe and free."

Though limited before, the initiatives of both Congress and the DoD, as well as CNY Fertility Centers, are giving military men and women greater access to more care options.

 
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