A Major Way Our Female Vets Are Not Getting The Care They Deserve

Photographed by Nicolas Bloise.

If a young woman volunteers to join the military, goes overseas to serve our country, and is wounded during her time there, don't we owe her the best possible care upon her return? Especially if that care involves her right to reproduce? 

Sen. Patty Murray thinks so. On Wednesday, she reintroduced the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015, a bill she has tried to pass three times since 2012. It would expand reproductive health care for severely wounded vets, as well as female vets who are unable to have biological children. Plus, it would offer more adoption services to those vets.

This is an issue that doesn’t get a lot of attention, but for the families involved, it can be extremely disheartening to muddle through.

"Thousands of servicemembers and veterans have returned from their service and hoped to have children, only to find that despite their sacrifices for our country, they are unable to obtain the type of assistance they need," Sen. Murray told us. "This bill is about nothing more than giving veterans who have sacrificed so much the option to fulfill the dream of starting a family."

Part of the reason it can be so tough for these vets is that military and V.A. health insurance just won’t cover all the pricey procedures that can come with trying to start a family. The V.A. also doesn’t offer a full range of the growing roster of fertility treatments; for instance, it can’t legally offer IVF and it doesn’t cover artificial insemination. (Servicemembers can access some of the more complicated services, but they have to pay out of pocket.)

Under the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act, Murray says about 2,300 veterans (as well as their spouses or surrogates) would be able to pursue expanded fertility services. This would “end the ban on in vitro fertilization at V.A. medical centers,” Murray says. Plus, it would cover adoption assistance for severely injured service members who want to take that route, and it would help launch a pilot program to cover childcare for vets.

The surrogacy issue has been a sticking point in the past because it was considered “extremely difficult to implement” state-by-state, according to Military Times. The publication is reporting, though, that the House Veterans' Affairs Committee will be discussing IVF on Friday, which could hint at a positive outcome for Murray’s bill (or, perhaps, a slightly altered version proposed by another House member).

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly named the bill. It's the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015, not the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2015.
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