In my opinion, from the day you sign up for the military to the day you get out, you are the military’s responsibility and if something happens to you because of the military, it’s their responsibility to fix it. But that isn’t always the case.
In March of 2011 my husband was injured while deployed with the 101st Airborne Division to Afghanistan. He stepped on an IED and immediately lost both his legs.
But that wasn’t all. He suffered other major injuries – including one to his groin, which left him with only one viable testicle.
We were both very young and dreamed of starting a family, so this was a huge concern to us. I asked the military over and over again for testing to be done to ensure we would be able to have children and I was told time and time again we could.
Still, I had an unsettled feeling about the whole situation. A few months before my husband was set to retire, I demanded further testing. A visit to the urology clinic for a semen analysis revealed the result I feared most: we would never be able to have our own children.
I was filled with emotions; disappointment, anger, and complete devastation. I wondered if they had just done these tests 18 months ago when we asked, could we have done something? Since we’ll never know the answer to that, we knew we just needed to look at another viable option: in vitro fertilization.
As we were told about this a few things really stuck. Both the waiting list, which can be over a year long, and the criteria requiring candidates to meet very specific age, weight, exercise, eating and vitamin rules were surprising and disappointing.
But the most shocking thing was this: Veterans Affairs does not cover the cost of in vitro fertilization. The procedure can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, and that is per session. If you don’t successfully get pregnant, you pay that over and over again until you do.
When I learned the VA doesn’t cover this I was completely shocked. The military paid for my husband’s prosthetic legs, wheelchair, hospital stays, and everything else — but they can’t pay to help us have a child? Were it not for his injury we likely would be able to. But they are not willing to fix – or at least help us find a solution around – this.
We are not the only ones in this situation; there are thousands of soldiers who sustained groin injuries due to combat. There needs to be a law passed that allows the military to cover in vitro fertilization and any fertility testing for soldiers who received groin injuries due to combat. It is absolutely wrong that there isn’t already. It would mean the world of difference to so many people, including my family. To rip the dream of having a family away from thousands of servicemembers is wrong.
I can only think of positive reasons is to why the military should cover in vitro fertilization and fertility treatments for servicemembers who suffered a groin injury in combat. It shouldn’t be a debate. It should be a law.
Editor’s note: A bill has been introduced to the Senate by Sen. Patty Murray, chairwoman of the Veteran’s Affairs committee. You can let your voice be heard by going here and writing a letter to your Congressional representatives. When searching for your representatives remember to use the address in the state in which you vote, not the address where you currently live.
Megan Zimmerman is the spouse of a medically retired Soldier who was injured in Afghanistan in 2011.