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Kaine Cosponsors Bill to Help Servicemembers and Veterans Start Their Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing the Veteran Families Health Services Act of 2023, legislation that would expand the fertility treatments and family-building services covered under servicemembers’ and veterans’ health care. While the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) currently offer some forms of fertility treatment and counseling, these offerings are limited and difficult for veterans to access. This bill would expand VA and DoD’s current fertility treatment and counseling offerings and empower servicemembers and veterans to start families when the time is right for them.

“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,” said Kaine.

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.

Joining Kaine, Murray, and Duckworth in cosponsoring the legislation are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and led by Representatives Rick Larsen (D-WA-02) and Sara Jacobs (D-CA-51).

Full text of the bill is available here.