Larsen Praises DOD Push For Better Reproductive Care To Help Servicemembers Start Families

Jan 28, 2016 Issues: Supporting our Naval Bases, Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today praised a move by the Department of Defense to improve its benefits for military families, including expanded reproductive care and adoption assistance, two services Larsen has pushed for.

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced a number of changes to policies for military families as part of an ongoing review of military recruiting and retention. However, one change could reduce paid maternity leave for some military families, which Larsen said he did not support and would address with the Department of Defense.

“I want our servicemembers to have the support needed to start and raise healthy families. That is why I have pushed for better access to reproductive care and adoption assistance for our women and men in uniform and for veterans, and I am pleased the Department of Defense is recognizing the importance of these services. Women and men in uniform who already make sacrifices in service to our country should not face barriers here at home when it comes to achieving their dream of starting a family,” Larsen said. 

Larsen is leading a bill, the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act of 2015, to expand reproductive health services to help servicemembers and veterans with service-connected disabilities start families. The bill would also expand services specifically designed for the care of women veterans. A summary of the bill is available here. The text of the bill is available here.

Larsen expressed frustration at an announced change in maternity leave that could negatively affect some military families. The new policy standardizes 12 weeks of paid maternity leave for all branches of the military. The Navy and Marine Corps currently offer 18 weeks, while the Army and Air Force offer 6 weeks. 

“While it is good news that the Department of Defense is working to support military families, cutting maternity leave for Navy families undermines recruiting and retention. I will work with the Department of Defense in the coming weeks on this issue that impacts the servicemembers in my district,” Larsen said.