In a continued effort to further assist the estimated 1,500 to 2,000 service members who sustained genitourinary injuries that may affect fertility, the Bob Woodruff Foundation established a financial assistance fund to help cover the costs associated with needed reproductive treatments to help our service men and women start or grow their own families. Merck, Ferring Pharmaceuticals and EMD Serono made this possible through funding provided by independent grants.
While Congress recently approved fertility coverage for wounded Veterans and their families through the Department of Veterans Affairs, it will likely take time for this legislation to take effect as services and expenses are defined. It is clear from the research that age is one of the most important factors in successful fertility treatments. Therefore, rather than have these military members wait, which could potentially hamper their fertility efforts further, the Woodruff fund will serve as a bridge to gap these costs now, giving veterans timely assistance to help with their issues.
“We owe our injured service men and women every opportunity to take the next steps in their lives and experience the true joys of starting a family,” stated Lee Woodruff, co-founder of the foundation. “BWF and our partners are honored to support our injured service members by lessening their financial burden to allow them to achieve the American dream that they fought hard to protect.”
The BWF IVF Fund complements efforts on the part of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology to provide access to care while awaiting action by Congress to change the policy at the VA.
“Such collaboration between a medical specialty, the pharmaceutical industry and a well-established nonprofit like the Bob Woodruff Foundation is unprecedented,” said Dr. Gilbert Mottla, a leading physician in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the Shady Grove Fertility in Annapolis, Maryland. “This effort will go a long way toward helping wounded Veterans build their families.”
“The nation’s fertility experts stand ready to assist in any way we can to implement these new programs at the VA. We applaud Congress for enacting legislation to provide this necessary access to care and we commend the Bob Woodruff Foundation for its continued commitment to our nation’s Veterans,” stated ASRM President Owen K. Davis.
The impetus for this initiative came out of the groundbreaking “Intimacy after Injury” conference, hosted by the Bob Woodruff Foundation in December 2014. This two-day event explored the effects of war injuries on sexual relationships and fertility. Among the challenges discussed was the fact that the VA was prohibited by a law enacted in 1992 to cover the cost of IVF therapy; however, IVF was being covered by the Department of Defense for those on active duty.
To learn more about the Bob Woodruff Foundation, visit www.BobWoodruffFoundation.org; for eligibility criteria and to apply for the IVF Fund, please visit http://bobwoodrufffoundation.org/ivf-fund-application/.
Pictured above, Tracy Keil discusses, along with other Veteran family advocates, the fertility challenges faced by injured service members and their families during the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s ground-breaking Intimacy After Injury convening, held in Washington, D.C., in December of 2014. Among the issues discussed was the personal financial burden incurred by families, including Keil’s, to pursue treatment in the hope of having a family.
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) was founded in 2006 after reporter Bob Woodruff was hit by a roadside bomb while covering the war in Iraq. Since then, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has led an enduring call to action for people to stand up for heroes and meet the emerging and long-term needs of today’s veterans. To date, BWF has invested more than $33 million to find, fund and shape programs that have empowered more than 2.5 million impacted veterans, service members and their families. For more information, please visit www.bobwoodrufffoundation.org or follow us on Twitter at @Stand4Heroes.