I saw a movie this weekend that got me thinking about this topic. Nicholas Spark’s most recent adaptation to the big screen was The Longest Ride. There is a scene in the movie where one of the characters is flashing back to an injury sustained during World War II that caused him to be infertile. When he returned, he avoided letting his fiancé know that he was back. The reason: his injury had left him unable to have children, and before he had deployed, the love of his life had made it clear she wanted a huge family.
The heartbreak on the veteran’s face was moving - and at that time, infertility science wasn’t even on the horizon. He was faced with a choice: force the woman he loved with all of his heart to stay with him, knowing she could never be happy in a childless life, or leave her so she could find a fertile man to live out her large family dreams with.
I wondered if the story would have played out differently had the characters had access to modern day infertility treatment. It also got me thinking that service members who have sustained the wounds of war should be entitled to receive reproductive services so they have the best chance of starting a family after making such a huge sacrifice for their country.
Giving the Gift of Family Building to Our Wounded Warriors
Currently IVF is banned as a reproductive service offered to wounded veterans by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). US Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced a bill, The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015, that will allow the VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide infertility services such as IVF to service members, veterans, and their families who suffer injuries as a result of their military service.
Even though the DoD can provide IVF treatment, many service members are excluded from eligibility for this and other infertility treatments. The new bill would expand the eligibility parameters, giving veterans and their families more family building options than ever before.
It’s difficult to believe there could even be any argument against providing this service to our military after making the sacrifice of their time and physical well being protecting us. Many of these veterans return after being deployed for years, eager to begin a new life that often includes building a family and a career beyond their military service. An outdated law currently prevents veterans from being able to pursue a family, even in cases of severe injury, with the help of IVF technology.
An Appeal to Congress on Mother's Day 2015
This past May RESOLVE, the National Infertility Association, assisted Senator Murray, Members of Congress, and the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide all the support and information possible to veterans who seek out parenthood with assisted reproduction.
RESOLVE advocated for the passage of the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 on May 14th, just a few days after Mother’s Day this year.
If the efforts are a success, veterans and their families will have the opportunity to add assisted reproduction as a tool to build their families and their lives after serving our country.