11 Nov 2013 AFA Offers Fertility Resources to Members of Armed Services
Since all of us were together in New York recently for the American Fertility Association’s Illuminations event (see our recent post about the event and honorees Nia Vardalos and Dr. Alan S. Penzias, M.D.), the AFA board took the opportunity to meet. Recent statistics show that one in eight U.S. couples is experiencing infertility of one kind or another, and those numbers include members of our military. Among the topics the board discussed was the AFA’s recent initiative to help members of the U.S. armed forces and their families by providing information and resources and by asking our members to consider providing discounted infertility treatment and preservation services to service members. International Fertility Law Group is supporting this program by offering discounted rates.
To help ensure military families have the information they need, the AFA recently published a new handbook, “Combating Infertility During Military Service.” The AFA handbook includes information on services and treatment options and guidance for service members and family members who are undergoing treatment, including a list of questions to ask clinics or care providers.
As the handbook points out, all couples or individuals facing infertility face numerous stressors: the need to determine the cause of the infertility, the decision whether or not to undergo infertility treatment, and in the event treatment fails, whether to consider ART, adoption or remaining childless. For individuals serving in the military, those stresses often are intensified by pending deployments, remote service, limited financial resources, frequent moves, family separations and other issues. Active duty military and reservists deployed for longer than 30 days are entitled to free health care, which includes some types of infertility treatments, but typically does not include assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization, or preservation methods such as freezing of eggs or sperm. Military health benefits do not cover cost of egg donation, sperm donation or surrogacy. A handful of Military Treatment Facilities in the U.S. provide limited types of ART usually at lower cost than private clinics, but the cost of treatment is borne by the service member. Service members choosing to be treated at an MTF are likely to be wait-listed and may have to travel long distances for treatment.
The AFA also encourages service members who will be deployed to combat zones and want to start families at some future time to consider freezing, or cryopreserving, sperm, eggs or embryos. Cryopreservation is not included in military health benefits and is usually not covered by standard health insurance policies. A list of facilities offering discounted services to military members can be found at www.afa.org.
We owe a lot to the men and women who sacrifice their comfort, safety and security so that the rest of us can enjoy those privileges. As AFA Executive Director Ken Mosesian put it so eloquently in announcing publication of the military handbook, “Our veterans and those who are serving in the uniformed and armed services have given all they have to this nation. We are compelled to do all we can to assist them in having a family as a means of demonstrating our heartfelt appreciation for their sacrifice.”