Military veterans who have suffered wounds making it impossible for them to have children without costly in vitro fertilization treatments are banned from having those treatments paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
However, two new bills in Congress are aimed at removing a legal blockade against such treatment, dating back 23 years, which would enable veterans with spinal, genital or other injuries preventing them from parenting children to receive the pricey treatments with the government picking up the tab, The Washington Post
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., have offered bills which, while differing in what they would cover, would allow the VA to begin covering in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments aimed at helping thousands of injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have children.
Since 2012, the Post said, the Department of Defense has covered IVF treatments for active duty servicemen, but they lose this coverage once they leave the service and fall under the auspices of the VA.
Murray called the block on VA funding of IVF "a shocking gap, outdated and just wrong," and said, "It’s a bill that recognizes the men and women who are harmed in the service of this country have bright, full lives ahead of them. To me, it’s such a no-brainer. The technology is there now. Why can’t we help them?" the Post reported.
Murray proposed similar bills in 2012 and 2013 but they failed to pass, the Military Times
Miller's bill would not provide for the coverage of adoption and surrogate parenting included in Murray's bill.
"Because IVF can be costly, for some veterans, waiting until they are in VA care can mean having to choose between financial free fall or forgoing their dreams of having a child altogether," Miller said in a speech
"That is an agonizing and unacceptable choice that this draft bill would help prevent veterans with these disabilities from ever having to make."
Murray estimates that 2,300 veteran families would be impacted by the legislation, the Military Times said.
In 2013, the VA noted that it was in favor of Murray's legislation, but the section on providing IVF for surrogates would be "extremely difficult to implement" because of "complex legal, medical and policy arrangements of surrogacy" which vary by state, the Military Times reported.
Holly Dillmann, wife of Army Staff Sgt. Alex Dillmann, paralyzed from the abdomen down by an IED, or improvised explosive device, in Afghanistan, told the Post, "The VA ban is literally adding insult to injury. It's like the approach to this is, 'We aren’t going to do anything to help you. You get to go this one alone.'"
Retired Army Staff Sgt. Matt Keil, left a quadriplegic after a sniper shot him in the neck in Iraq, and his wife, Tracy, now have twins, but only after spending $32,000 on IVF treatments.
"Our husbands already have so many limitations. Why does not having children have to be another one?" Tracy Keil asked the Post.
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