For veterans who sustained reproductive injuries, new legislation addresses the need for IVF coverage.

For veterans who sustained reproductive injuries, new legislation addresses the

Air Force veteran Sean Halsted is proud to be a father of three in spite of the debilitating injury he suffered. While doing a training exercise in 1998, he fell 40 feet from a helicopter and damaged his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.

Sean and his wife, Sarah, met in college at Washington State. After graduation, Halsted joined the Air Force and married Sarah. The couple looked forward to a life together with children, but those dreams were cut short due to Sean's accident. The Halsteds discovered they were ideal candidates for in-vitro fertilization – a procedure that involves fertilizing a woman’s egg outside the body and then implanting it in the womb. They were dismayed, however, to learn the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t cover the costly but effective procedure.

In an odd twist of how the government treats its military men and women, severely injured active-duty personnel qualify for the procedure in some cases, but the VA doesn’t cover it for veterans.
 
The Halsteds, who live in Rathdrum, paid $20,000 out of their own pocket for the procedure. It was an expense they say many veterans and their spouses can’t afford.
But two bills making their way through Congress could give more injured veterans hope they can still have a family.

An article on Spokesman discusses the legislation and doctor's reactions.

The federal legislation would offer fertility treatment for veterans’ spouses, as well as for gestational surrogates, which may be needed if a female veteran’s uterus is damaged or removed. The current lack of coverage for a surrogate is a problem in light of the increasing role women are playing on the battlefield, said Dr. Lori Marshall, medical director of the Pacific Northwest Fertility and IVF Specialists.

“If you don’t cover the partner, you’re not really covering in-vitro fertilization,” she said. “If you don’t cover the gestational surrogate, you’re not really covering it. You’re not really taking care of the injury completely, and not really allowing all the couples that need to have care to have the care that they need.”
Since 2003, more than 1,800 U.S. military members have suffered injuries in Iraq or Afghanistan that impact the reproductive tract.
The bills also include research on the the long-term medical needs of veterans with reproductive injuries.

“These veterans deserve far more,” Marshall said. “For a severely wounded veteran and his or her spouse, their infertility is yet another human cost of war. The commitment we have to our veterans is non-negotiable, regardless of the fiscal cost.”

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