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When our service members return home and begin looking to the future, they can be faced with a sensitive and scary reality that the wounds of war can impact intimacy and fertility. In early 2017, the VA began offering services for those veterans struggling to conceive due to service-connected wounds, but not everyone qualifies for VA support. Fertility resources and processes like IUI and IVF can be costly and difficult to navigate. That’s where the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Veterans In-Vitro InitiAtive (VIVA) comes in.
VIVA Family Stories
The Engert Family
The Engert Family shares their story on GMA3.
The Perez Family
The Perez Family shares their story with PEOPLE.COM.
The Ruiz Family
The Ruiz Family shares their story.
The Ruiz Family’s VIVA Story
– Senior Chief Petty Officer Jesus “Fernando” Ruiz, US Navy, Retired
Frequently Asked Questions
You will need to register and log in to our grantee portal to access the VIVA application. You will need the items listed below. We provide samples of the letters to make the process easier for you.
- VA disability rating letter, including an itemized list of service-connected disabilities.
- A letter from your fertility center stating they are a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) and will provide a W-9. (Download Sample SART Letter)
- VA confirmation letter from your VA medical facility stating they are aware that you are attempting IVF. This may come from your primary care physician or Women Veteran Program manager. (Download Sample VA Confirmation Letter)
- Signed consent form. (Download VIVA Consent Form)
- Documentation indicating the cost of your treatment.
We continually review applications and do not have a deadline. In fact, we work with you. We are on your time schedule! It is stressful enough to try to have a family. We do not want to burden you with deadlines.
The Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) and VA collaborate to ensure that veterans are aware of the different service and funding opportunities available. On occasion, we will refer a veteran to the VA, and the VA sometimes refers veterans to VIVA. VIVA has slightly different eligibility requirements than the VA program, so we complement the VA’s program.
The BWF VIVA fund provides only limited funding, but more veterans are eligible for VIVA than for the VA program.
The VA will cover 6 attempts and 3 complete cycles over the lifetime of the veteran. However, there are exclusions. Under recent law, IVF is covered for some veterans and their spouses. Eligibility is determined by a service-connected disability and clinical judgment of the health care provider.
To receive IVF through the VA:
The veteran must be legally married.
The veteran must have a service-connected condition causing infertility.
The veteran or spouse must have an intact uterus and at least one functioning ovary.
The veteran or spouse must be able to produce sperm.
Some veterans are not eligible for the VA IVF program but are eligible for a VIVA grant. BWF does not exclude veterans who are in a same-sex relationship, a partnership relationship, or who require donor sperm, egg, or embryo.
The veteran must have a service-connected condition causing infertility and must use a SART clinic. Additionally, the SART clinic must be able to provide a W-9 form to the Bob Woodruff Foundation.
Veterans eligible for the VA program can receive VA funding for up to 6 attempts and 3 complete cycles of IVF, including testing and medications over the lifetime of the veteran. The procedures are performed at a non-VA facility that has contracted with the VA PCP3 network and is a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). These veterans will have a considerably lower expense. The BWF VIVA grant is limited to two cycles of IVF at $5,000 per cycle with a maximum grant amount of $10,000.
SART is the primary organization of professionals dedicated to the practice of IVF, or assisted reproductive technology (ART). The organization represents the majority of the ART clinics in the country. The mission of SART is to establish and maintain standards for ART so that you receive the highest possible level of care. SART clinics meet the highest standards for quality, safety, and patient care. Because BWF wants to ensure you are receiving the best possible care, we require you to use a SART clinic to be eligible for a VIVA grant.
You can visit sart.org to find a SART clinic near you and see how well they are doing.
Most veterans using the VA program for IVF will not incur medical expenses. There are some exceptions to that, and VIVA can help defray those costs.
If you started using the VA fertility program but found that it is not the right fit for you, VIVA may be able to help.
Veterans can contact their local VA Women Veteran Program Manager for more information about infertility services. Every VA clinic and medical center has a Women Veteran Program Manager. You may call (855) 829-6636 to find out where your local Women Veteran Program manager is located. VA provides infertility evaluation, management, and treatment services to veterans who are enrolled and are eligible for VA health care. All enrolled and eligible veterans may be provided with infertility service regardless of service connection, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, relationship, or marital status.
Often program managers will refer veterans to us to see if they are eligible for our program. Still not sure? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll help.
No, you do not. However, your infertility must be due to a service-connected disability.
Yes! We do fund veterans who are in a same-sex relationship.
BWF does provide VIVA grants for veterans who require donor sperm, egg, or embryo because of their service-connected fertility challenges.
BWF prioritizes grants to veterans who have service-related fertility challenges. Unfortunately, we are not currently providing funding when the civilian spouse has fertility challenges.
Yes. BWF will provide a VIVA grant if a veteran requires a surrogate because of the veteran’s service-connected fertility challenges.
There are other wounds and injuries besides those to the creative organs that may affect fertility. BWF has, for example, provided funding to veterans with spinal wounds. On an individual basis, we will consider other wounds, injuries, or illnesses, including PTSD or TBI.