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DOD releases reproductive health travel numbers

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh conducts a media briefing at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., March 26, 2024. Photo credit: Joseph Clark, DOD

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Under a policy implemented last year, service members and eligible dependents may be authorized travel and transportation allowances to access noncovered reproductive health care services when timely access to those services is not available near a member's permanent duty station.

"For example, this could entail a service member traveling from their home station in one state or overseas location to a state where they can access noncovered reproductive health care services, and then returning home to that home station," said Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh during a briefing March 26. 

Between June and December 2023, the policy was used 12 times across the military services, Singh said, adding that the total cost to the department during that time was about $45,000. 

Singh also noted that while the policy was used 12 times, this doesn't mean the policy was used by 12 individuals. Instead, she said, an individual may have used the policy more than once. 

Also implemented last year is a separate policy under which service members may be granted an administrative absence from their normal duty station, without being charged leave, for a period of up to 21 days, to receive or to accompany a dual-military spouse or dependent who receives noncovered reproductive health care.

Such noncovered reproductive health care might include things such as egg retrieval, ovarian stimulations, intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization and noncovered abortion. 

While the department may pay travel costs to allow service members to access these kinds of noncovered reproductive health care services, the service members pay for the actual health care services themselves. 

"These policies ensure that service members and their families are afforded the time and flexibility to make private health care decisions, as well as supporting access to noncovered reproductive health care regardless of where they are stationed," Singh said.

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