The new measure overrides a previous law dating from 1992 that "prohibited the Department of Veterans Affairs from paying for IVF for veterans and their families," according to NPR. However, in recent years, "political pressure has mounted as hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan vets returned with blast wounds and other injuries that affect their reproductive abilities."
In other words, some veterans struggle to conceive naturally because of the injuries they sustained in combat. Now, these veterans can safely and affordably access help from fertility experts anywhere in the country -- without having to worry about IVF costs.
One example of a couple who has already benefited from IVF treatments is Tyler and Crystal Wilson, who spoke before Congress about their struggles. Tyler was injured while serving in Afghanistan, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
After spending $14,000 on IVF treatments, the couple is now expecting their first child in March. But they hope to use their story to demonstrate how life-changing the new VA coverage could be.
"Our goal always had been 'we'd love to have two,' but it took everything we had for this one," Crystal Wilson said. "This could potentially eliminate a barrier placed on those who have honorably served."
Even for couples with a normal functioning reproductive system between the ages of 29 to 33, the odds of conceiving within any given month are only 20 to 25%. So for couples who are struggling with infertility because of duty-related injuries, the chances may be next to impossible without the help of a team of fertility experts.
Ultimately, Crystal told a Denver news station, "our goal is that no other couple has to go through that struggle when they are already struggling on a day-to-day basis of getting through life paralyzed."
The new bill is certainly a cause for celebration among veterans and their families. To learn about the types of IVF treatments that might qualify for VA coverage, visit your local fertility center or VA office for more information.