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In her June 2 column “Stop denying female GIs full reproductive rights,” retired Maj. Gen. Gale S. Pollock makes the case that the issue is “fairness” when discussing whether military members should have abortions covered by their health care providers. Unfortunately, in using “reproductive health” as a clean code word for abortion, she has blindly dismissed the other category of those struggling with their own reproductive issues.

While the political debate goes on about when does life begin, the rights of the mother to terminate that life, completely overlooked in the “reproductive health” argument are the couples who are trying to get pregnant but cannot due to one factor or another.

Tricare only covers medications and noninvasive treatments. So in vitro fertilization and other such treatments, the burden is completely on the servicemember. Often it takes multiple cycles of IVF spanning over several years before some women see a successful result.

Our struggle to have children lasted seven years and cost us more than $30,000, none of which Tricare covered. Although it was a long and difficult process for us, we were lucky. If we had not been stationed in Europe, where clinics provide the same high-quality care for a lower cost, the same course of treatments back in the United States would have cost well over $200,000. However, when I look into the eyes of my son and see the smile of my daughter light up the room, I would have to make the same decision again.

If you want true “reproductive health” covered, you need to include the much longer, harder and more expensive struggle to have children. When you discuss “reproductive health” only in the terms of abortion, you do a disservice to all those who struggle month after month, trying one thing after another, going through one heartbreak after another just for the slight chance to experience what those on the other side are fighting to get rid of.

Maj. Joseph Govocek

Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan

D.A.R.E. deserved better

Thanks to Stars and Stripes for alerting parents and the military community about the Department of Defense Education Activity decision to end the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in its schools after 20 years (“DODDS phasing out anti-drug program,” article, June 2). The article also included input from stakeholders — something missing from DODEA’s decision-making process.

Before deciding to drop a program that has effectively involved the military police and community in our DODEA schools, it would have been very important to survey parents, students, teachers and the community. I have witnessed firsthand the positive partnerships that are built between the military police and DODEA students in the schools. Not only do the military police participants provide valuable information to our students through a variety of educational methods, they set the foundation for a positive relationship with children, who may need to seek their help in other settings.

The military police know our students and families very well. They work side by side in the communities and housing areas. They are able to spot trends that may be related to drugs, alcohol and cigarettes, but also to gang activities or other emerging concerns. The expertise they bring into the schools through this program has proven to be invaluable. They do touch children’s lives, as expressed by the principal quoted in the article.

I hope DODEA will reconsider the decision to drop this positive partnership program focused on drug education. As DODEA renews its commitment to parents, students and the military community, it should, at the very least, seek input from the stakeholders. If the surveyed results from our own population show that there has been a positive effect not only in protecting our children from the known dangers of substance abuse but also in forging a positive partnership with the military community, then this investment should continue.

Michael Priser

President

Federal Education Association

Washington


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