“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” Franklin D. Roosevelt
Last week, I had the distinct honor and pleasure to work with Resolve, the National Infertility Association, and 200 other advocates as we met with members of the US Congress to discuss our wounded warriors needing fertility treatment to build their family (Senate Bill S 469 and House Bills HR 3365 and HR 4892), the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act (S 950 and HR 2434) and the CDC National Action Plan for Infertility. A summary of these bills can found at Congress.gov.
On May 11th, all 200 motivated advocates roamed the halls of the Senate and House buildings to meet with their Senators, US Representatives, and staffers. We also had the honor to meet and hear from Representative Tammy Duckworth (Illinois), who pulled herself up to stand out of her wheelchair and shared her personal story about her life as a female minority Blackhawk pilot. While ambitiously striving to meet her leadership goals and serving for all our families, Tammy found herself permanently disabled upon wanting to begin her own motherhood journey at age 42. And though she had given her reproductive years and even her limbs for the rest of us to live in safety, the VA has a ban on offering IVF to veterans like Tammy–a true and outrageous tragedy. With the help of IVF she was able to have a child, but she had to pay completely out of pocket for treatment, as do other wounded veterans who, in many cases, have infertility as a direct result of the injuries they face fighting for us abroad. Matthew and Tracy Kyle have a similar story which was recently featured on CNN…please watch the video here; it’s an amazing story.
As a resident of CT, I was teamed up with an amazing delegate group, including a board-certified specialist in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility (REI) from Norwalk, who is also a veteran and served for many years at Walter Reed as the head of the fertility division. Others joined our team as well, including an REI Fellow at the UCONN Health Center, former fertility patients who now work at a fertility clinic in CT, and a fertility company specialist who has been advocating in DC for years.
As we went from office to office, our meetings and asks were met with overwhelming support and interest. We met Senator Blumenthal, a key ranking member for veterans affairs. Our Representative John Larson is a critical figure for the the Ways and Means committee. Senator Chris Murphy has already voted yes for an amendment to a large military bill which would provide the VA with funding to cover IVF. As a resident of Chester, my US Representative Joe Courtney was supportive of the House bills and his Deputy Chief of Staff was simply amazing and engaged in the important topics being discussed. Over the next few days, we will be writing detailed emails to everyone we met with and asking them to sign on as co-sponsors to the bills and continue their support for veterans struggling with infertility.
For those of you who have interest in advocating, you don’t need to go to DC to have your voice heard. Please visit Congress.gov and Resolve.org, find the bills listed above, learn about the legislation, and then contact your Senators and US Representative to ask for their support!
This post was written by Brian Miller, PhD, Chief Commercial Officer at Recombine.