The men and women who have served our country in the Armed Forces are on our minds more than ever lately. The numbers who are returning with medical needs of all kinds are staggering. Fortunately, many established service agencies are thinking ahead and new organizations to meet their needs are popping up all over.
Many of these troops are coming home with fertility issues they never thought they'd encounter. And while the Veteran's Administration has long provided coverage for limited fertility treatment, such as diagnostic tests and IUI, patients needing IVF to conceive have been left out of the VA picture.
Now, there's a bill being considered by the Senate that would specifically allow the VA to cover IVF, among other expansions to fertility treatments covered.
From a recent Associated Press article on FoxNews:
More than 1,830 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have suffered pelvic fractures and genitourinary injuries since 2003 that could affect their abilities to reproduce, according to Pentagon figures provided to Sen. Patty Murray, the bill's sponsor and chairwoman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
Senator Murray, a Democrat from Washington state, says she hopes the committee will act on the bill after returning from August recess. I've been honored to help build families for men and women who've served the United States. A few years ago, I performed an egg retrieval and ICSI fertilization for a couple at Houston Fertility Center's central location while the husband looked via live video in Iraq. It was an exciting moment for all of us and a perfect example of how the combination of medical and communication technologies can enrich our lives. Houston Fertility Center has served several other veterans, and we regularly offer discounts to the men and women who are serving our country. Now, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 seeks to increase the likelihood that all who need fertility care to build their families can access the types of assisted reproductive technology that are necessary for their situation. You can hear the related personal story of Staff Sgt Matthew Keil's family as they struggled with barriers to fertility treatment access, as told by Tracy Keil (the sergeant's wife, who has become a leading advocate of the proposed bill) at a Senate hearing earlier this summer.
Mrs. Keil says it best: "War time changes a family. It shouldn't take away the ability to have one."