Larsen Bill Would Help Veterans With Disabilities Start Families

Nov 9, 2015 Issues: Veterans, Women's Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Veterans who sustained injuries during their military service that prevent them from conceiving children will get access to advanced fertility treatments and adoption assistance if Congress passes a bill announced today by Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02. Larsen announced the bill in advance of Veterans Day.

The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 would give veterans with service-connected disabilities access to in vitro fertilization and adoption assistance. A recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) found that 15.8 percent of female and 13.8 percent of male Iraq and Afghanistan veterans report they are not able to conceive children.  The bill would also expand services specifically designed for the care of women veterans.

“Veterans who finished their service to our country unable to conceive children because of injuries should get the care and support they need to start a family. The challenges that veterans with service-connected disabilities face are already enormous. They should not have to empty out their bank accounts to achieve their dreams of starting a family. This bill addresses one of the most common disabilities associated with service in combat by giving veterans access to the reproductive health care and family planning options they need,” Larsen said. 

The Department of Defense already covers in vitro fertilization for active duty service members and retirees, but the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does not provide the coverage for veterans.

“This bill also improves VA services for women veterans,” Larsen added. “As more women serve in combat roles, these improvements are all the more necessary to make sure the VA is meeting the needs of all our veterans.”

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is supporting the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015, noting the strides it makes to address the inequity of fertility options between service members and veterans.

“This important legislation would expand fertility treatments afforded to service members and veterans who have lost their ability to have children as a direct result of their service-connected injuries,” said Raymond C. Kelley, director of the VFW National Legislative Service.

Advocates for women and men living with infertility issues also support the bill.

“Starting a family already is too difficult for veterans who sustained injuries during their service,” said Barbara Collura, president and CEO for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “But outdated rules make starting a family even harder by depriving veterans of access to the reproductive services they need. Congressman Larsen’s bill will help ensure veterans with service-connected disabilities have the opportunity to start the family they always dreamed of. RESOLVE strongly supports this legislation and urges Congress to pass the bill in support of our veterans.”

“The Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015 would allow wounded warriors to access a fertility treatment that might otherwise be out of reach due to prohibitive costs,” said the executive director for the National Military Family Association, Joyce Wessel Raezer. “Given the sacrifices these wounded warriors and their families have made, we believe it is incumbent on our nation to make every effort to restore their reproductive capabilities.”

Senator Patty Murray introduced the bill in the Senate earlier this year.

A summary of the bill is available here. The text of the bill is available here.

The following members are cosponsors of the House bill: Judy Chu, CA-32; Suzan DelBene, WA-01; Tammy Duckworth, IL-08; Raul Grijalva, AZ-03; Sheila Jackson Lee, TX-18; Alan Lowenthal, CA-47; Sean Patrick Maloney, NY-18; Betty McCollum, MN-04; Bobby Rush, IL-01; Dina Titus, NV-01. 

Larsen recently held a series of six roundtables with veterans in the Second Congressional District. Read more about the events here.

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