Did someone say #supportthetroops?
On the brink of the political season filled with humorous satire regarding American candidates and the state of the union, finally we have some individuals in power who are fighting for our troops and their little troopers. Talk about a soldier’s salute! Defense Secretary and Support the Troops advocate, Ashton B. Carter seeks approval through the Pentagon to hatch a revolutionary plan of action drawing mass appeal to enlist and retain a younger generation of proud recruits and ranks: freezing sperm and eggs.
The United States military is currently commissioning major headlines since the breaking news of females being allowed to fight in combat- now this is just as huge! Our current military service is severely lacking in family-friendly initiatives serving much contention and apprehension among the troops of various branches. The Defense Department is looking to shift focus on longer maternity leaves, improved child care and the creation of lactation rooms at military facilities, on top of freezing sperm and eggs. Although pending, creating a pilot program offering to pay for our armed forces to have their reproductive cells preserved is the ultimate goal.
By design, we would be providing our men and women in uniform complete peace of mind securing their future with the potential capability to still have children. Even if they are wounded in battle or experience other detrimental circumstances, there will be an avenue of options and advanced technology available for them. Prior to this conviction, countless veterans who have suffered injuries to their reproductive organs in war have missed their opportunity to procreate. Many individuals have lobbied for fertility reimbursement packages or to have the Defense Department pay for this therapy upfront. This program is meant to serve our soldiers the way they have served us.
Specifically encouraging to the female combats, the program directly caters to women pursuing militia careers during their 20s and 30s- a brief window of peak years when traditionally many leave to give birth or after motherhood. Freezing their eggs supplies flexibility to remain active and/or as they may be deployed overseas. Standardly speaking, since after a decade women tend to drop to a 30 percent lower retention rate than their male counterparts, this alleviates a huge hurdle attracting more individuals. “Although peak fertility occurs between the ages 25-30, women may access these services at the time that is right for them. Personally or professionally,” says fertility expert Dr. Peter Klatsky.
As one of the largest enterprises, the Pentagon leads the forefront of this proposal with the beneficial resources to ensure its success. Although, high-tech companies like Facebook and Apple have confirmed their acceptance of “eggsurance” (which may cost upwards of $10,000), as they have a strong need to hire more female candidates for employment. However, even with seemingly positive intentions to improve reproductive strategy and fertility issues, the Defense Department officials still must navigate around the legal and ethical questions being raised. After all, the practice of freezing eggs and sperm is not like microwaving a frozen dinner. Complications and ineffective outcomes may still arise. Procedures are still progressive and evolving. It is crucial to educate our service members with the proper information delivering realistic expectations. Notably, treatments may require multiple attempts and are quite expensive. Boards will need to assess the value measures of fertility coverage vs. the impact on recruiting and retention. The Pentagon estimates that the program could amount to approximately $150 million over the span of five years. Ideally, it will be extended through Tricare, the military’s affordable health care plan.
An outlined memo is being drafted on the subject to review within the upcoming weeks, applying to active-duty participants, and re-evaluated in two years, until the final decision is made permanent. As the influence of Millennial culture puts a greater emphasis on work-life balance than previous generations, the obligation of this program may just have the power to keeping our military whole and build stronger family environments.