Bill would enable veterans struggling with fertility issues to expand families
Politics, U.S. & World

Bill would enable veterans struggling with fertility issues to expand families

Rebecca Barnabi
food lion veterans day
Photo courtesy Food Lion

The Veterans Families Health Services Act of 2023 would expand fertility treatments and family-building services covered under servicemembers’ and veterans’ health care.

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), joined Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois in introducing the bill Friday. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) offer some forms of fertility treatment and counseling, but the offerings are limited and difficult for veterans to access. The legislation would expand VA and DoD’s current fertility treatment and counseling offerings.

“I often hear from servicemembers that they feel like they’re putting their lives on hold in order to serve. This challenge hurts our military recruiting and retention. By expanding servicemembers and veterans’ access to the same fertility treatment and counseling services available to other Americans, we can help prevent these patriotic Americans from having to choose between service and family,” Kaine said.

Specifically, the Veteran Families Health Services Act would:

  • Allow servicemembers to cryopreserve (freeze) their gametes (eggs or sperm) before deployment to a combat zone or hazardous duty assignment and after an injury or illness — a proactive fertility service that is not currently covered under DoD health care.
  • Permanently authorize and significantly expand fertility treatment and counseling options, including assisted reproductive technology like IVF, to more veterans and servicemembers and ensure that veterans’ and servicemembers’ spouses, partners, and gestational surrogates are appropriately included in eligibility rules.
    • Currently, only individuals who are married to opposite-sex partners that can provide gametes for IVF are eligible for IVF services under DoD or VA health care, excluding all unmarried veterans and servicemembers whose partners are infertile, the same sex, or unable to provide gametes. This legislation would allow veterans and servicemembers to use gestational surrogates for covered IVF services and remove burdens of proof that make it difficult for many veterans to access IVF services.
  • Expand adoption assistance at VA.
  • Provide support for servicemembers and veterans to navigate their fertility options, find a provider that meets their needs, and ensure continuity of care after a permanent change of station or relocation.
  • Require VA and DoD to facilitate research on the long-term reproductive health needs of veterans.


Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.