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Veterans and Families Health Services Examined by Senate Committee

On June 24, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a hearing on several bills, including the Women Veterans and Families Health Services Act (S. 469).

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), would direct the secretary of defense to expand access to fertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization, for a spouse, partner, or injured member of the Armed Forces who has an infertility condition incurred while serving on active duty.

Among other provisions, the legislation would authorize the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to pay the adoption expenses for a severely wounded, ill, or injured veteran who has an infertility condition incurred in the line of duty and who is enrolled in the VA health care system. Additionally, VA would be required to enhance the capabilities of the VA Women Veterans Health Call Center to respond to requests for assistance with accessing VA health care and benefits, and to refer such veterans to federal or community resources.

Speaking in support of S. 469, Rajiv Jain, assistant deputy undersecretary for Health, Patient Care Services, Veterans Health Administration, stated: “VA is aware of the challenges faced by veterans with children in regard to access to medical appointments and other medical care, counseling, and care giving services…With the projected doubling of the number of women receiving health care through VA in the next several years, and the projected number of those women who are of child bearing age, in addition to the reality of single parent households with men, as well as women, serving as the parent, facilitating child care as a means of enhancing access to services is an important consideration. VA recognizes that the lack of competent, accessible child care negatively impacts the ability of veterans who are primary caretakers of a child or children to attend scheduled appointments.”

The following witnesses also testified:

  • Ian de Planque, legislative director, The American Legion;
  • Peter Hegseth, CEO, Concerned Veterans of America;
  • Adrian Atizado, assistant national legislative director, Disabled American Veterans;
  • Carl Blake, associate executive director, Paralyzed Veterans of America;
  • Max Stier, president and CEO, Partnership for Public Service; and
  • John Rowan, national president, Vietnam Veterans of America.
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