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ICYMI: Senator Murray Introduces Bill to Help Wounded Veterans Start a Family – MORE HERE

Senator Murray: “America’s veterans deserve comprehensive health care benefits from VA after their service to our country—and that includes fertility treatments” 

***WATCH VIDEO OF SENATOR MURRAY’S REMARKS HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing on pending legislation, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the committee, made the case for her Veteran Families Health Services Act, which she introduced earlier this year, to become law. The comprehensive bill would, among other things, ensure that servicemembers’ and veterans’ fertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), and counseling are included as part of the health benefits they’ve earned.

“We need to pass the Veteran Families Health Services Act for every veteran struggling with infertility, trying to realize their dream of having children. I have been fighting for the provisions in this bill to become law for almost a decade, because America’s veterans deserve comprehensive health care benefits from VA after their service to our country—and that includes fertility treatments,” Senator Murray said. “I’ve heard too many heartbreaking stories from Washington state veterans, who have dutifully served our country, that can’t start a family because their government won’t get them the care they need—it’s time for us to finally make this right and get this bill to President Biden’s desk.”

During the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of servicemembers suffered genitourinary, blast, spinal and brain injuries that left them unable to conceive naturally. But, because of a ban Congress passed in 1992, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been prohibited from covering the costs of certain fertility services. While VA and the Department of Defense (DoD) offer some forms of fertility treatment and counseling, far too often they fail to meet the needs of these servicemembers and veterans. Without the Veteran Families Health Services Act, many servicemembers could continue having to face the choice of pursuing fertility treatments before leaving service or risk paying thousands of dollars out of pocket later.

The Veteran Families Health Services Act would expand VA and DoD’s current fertility treatment and counseling offerings and empower servicemembers and veterans to start families when the time is right for them. This legislation would:

  • Allow servicemembers to cryopreserve their gametes before deployment to a combat zone or hazardous duty assignment and after an injury or illness.
  • Permanently authorize fertility treatment and counseling, including assisted reproductive technology like IVF, for veterans and servicemembers and allow for the use of donated gametes.
  • Ensure that veterans’ and servicemembers’ spouses, partners, and gestational surrogates are appropriately included in eligibility rules.
  • Provide support for servicemembers and veterans to navigate their options, find a provider that meets their needs, and ensure continuity of care after a permanent change of station or relocation.
  • Expand options for veterans with infertility by allowing VA to provide adoption assistance.
  • Require VA and DoD to facilitate research on the long-term reproductive health needs of veterans.

As the daughter of a disabled World War II veteran and as a college intern at the Seattle VA psychiatric ward, Senator Murray knows the sacrifice that military service demands. She has previously introduced legislation that would address many of the challenges that veterans face when it comes to starting a family following their service, and has in the past passed legislation to end the ban on IVF services at VA through the Senate. In addition to her work on veterans’ reproductive health, Senator Murray has been a long-time and tireless advocate for veterans, fighting for increased funding for increased benefits, housing assistance, new veterans clinics throughout Washington state, and accountability from VA, as well as increased education benefits, expanded employment assistance, and reduced wait times for veterans with pending claims.

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