IVF for Veterans?

Advocating for government support of soldiers trying to start families might seem like a political cakewalk unlikely to generate pushback. Yet, veterans across the country are repeatedly denied access to assisted reproductive technologies. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in January that the Pentagon would cover the often prohibitive costs of reproductive cell preservation for active-duty service members. There is a serious need for a program like this. Almost half of officers are between the ages of 26 and 35 and find themselves away from home during these prime reproductive years. With the option to freeze their eggs, female members no longer feel the same pressure to leave the service to have kids. Additionally, it’s a horrible truth that many men and women suffer injuries that make it difficult or impossible to reproduce, including over 1,300 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. Active-duty personnel depend heavily on explosive devices in combat, which can permanently damage sperm production. Soldiers also commonly sustain brain or spinal-cord injuries that harm reproductive organs and extinguish sex drive. The cell preservation program can provide some solace to service members who are realistically worried about these possible injuries. Of course, this does not help those veterans who have already lost the ability to produce children naturally due to injuries in combat. The preservation program is part of a larger campaign to convert the military a more family-friendly employer, which also promises expanded child-care and maternity/paternity leave options. Supporters hope that the program will usher in more expansive reforms giving military personnel access to a greater selection of reproductive technologies. The most effective of these other technologies is...