Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced on Jan. 28 that the Pentagon is funding a pilot program that allows all active duty service men and women to preserve sperm and eggs prior to deployment.
“The new benefit will protect active service members ability to start a family in the event of combat injury,” Carter said in a speech on Force of the Future reforms. “We can help our men and women preserve their ability to start a family, even if they suffer certain combat injuries.”
In an email with Task & Purpose, DoD spokesperson Matthew Allen said that through the TRICARE purchased care network, the DoD will cover the cost for active-duty service members to freeze their sperm or eggs.
The pilot will last two years, at which point the department will decide whether or not to renew the program.
This is a boon to many service men and women and their families, being that nearly half of all active duty service members are under 26 — prime ages for child bearing or fathering.
The program takes into account the roughly 1,300 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who suffered injuries that required reproductive surgeries.
“One purpose of the pilot is to understand the costs and potential recruiting and retention benefits for providing this medical service,” Allen said. “After two years, the pilot may be renewed or service members can pay for additional storage out of pocket.”
Currently, seven military treatment facilities cover the cost of in-vitro fertilization and artificial insemination for eligible active duty personnel and their spouses.
“By providing this additional peace of mind for our young service members, we provide our force greater confidence about their future,” Carter said.