Reminder: Vets with combat-related infertility still can’t get IVF though the VA.
The New York Times checks in on this frankly appalling gap in services for vets. The problem is that 1992 legislation prohibits the VA from covering IVF, passed largely out of concern over what would happen to unused embryos. Because even the troops lose when they’re up against embryos.
The Pentagon has established a couple of workarounds, but they’re still very limited. In January, the Times notes, the Pentagon launched a pilot program offering active duty personnel the opportunity to freeze their sperm or eggs. Partly intended as a means to attract and retain women, it’s also an insurance policy against the sorts of injuries that might interfere with future fertility. But as long as that 1992 law remains in place, vets dealing with infertility would still have to cover the rest of the process on their own.
The Department of Defense does offer fertility treatments to injured service members who are in recovery but still considered active duty. However, as a Washington Post piece from last May makes clear, that doesn’t get the job done. Family planning is hard enough when you’re not in the middle of physically and emotionally grueling rehab. DoD officials told the Times that a mere 20 vets have taken this option. From the piece:
“At that time you’re not thinking about kids,” said Sherman Gillums Jr., deputy executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Having a kid is the least of your worries. You don’t even know how your body is going to turn out.”
And even then, as that Washington Post piece makes clear, there’s no guarantee the one or two rounds of treatments you can squeeze in will take. That leaves couples to scrape up thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars on their own.
In January the DoD said it was “looking at how it can provide reproductive technologies like I.V.F. to a wider population,” the Times notes. But active-duty personnel and vets are covered by two different systems and as long as that goddamn law is in effect, vets will keep getting screwed over.
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