Home » ivf » The beginning of our journey with war related infertility

The beginning of our journey with war related infertility

Kevin & I have made a decision to be open about our struggles.  We believe that only with that openness, can change occur.  Most people know about the injuries that Kevin endured in Afghanistan… an amputated leg below the knee, missing pinky, mangled wrist, and a mangled left leg.  He is lucky to be alive.  Those injuries resulted in 2.5 years of recovery at Walter Reed.  However, there is one injury that has not been talked about much.  This injury could cost us the ability to have a family.  If it wasn’t for advancements in science, that would be definite.  One of his testicles was severally damaged in the blast; it resulted in it having to be removed.  He was on testosterone replacement for years because of it.  Recently, he has undergone tests to find out fertility levels.  The results are not pretty and borderline heartbreaking. Anything under 10 million sperm is considered low.  We are talking about a couple of 100 sperm in our situation.  The reason this happened…war.

The armor that soldiers wear has a protective Kevlar diaper(sounds funny I know, but it works) for protection.  However, the Kevlar diaper does protect them if the blast shoots straight up into their groin.  However in Kevin’s case and how he was striding, as the IED exploded, the blast crept up his leg into enough of an opening to damage groin area.  Had he not been wearing this diaper, the damage would have been even more devastating. The IED’s are set to mangle you; they want you to survive but suffer.  It is sick and it is twisted, but it is the reality.  I am thankful for the thousands of soldiers that show their strength when it was meant to be taken away from them.

Thousands of soldiers have experienced this type of injury, leading to infertility.  Many young military families who were planning to have children are now wondering how their life long dream can come true.  This is not just happening to one or two couples a year, it is several hundred a year, which is adding up to thousands during this war. Some soldiers going to war are only 18 years old, they haven’t even thought of a family yet. The idea of a family is robbed from them before it is even a reality for them.  It is a real problem.  If I knew someone going for deployment now, I would highly recommend freezing some sperm.  The ability to have a family is valued significantly.  When that is taken away from you, it is devastating.  It is worth the precaution in my opinion.

Kevin and I want to start our family soon after getting married.  We’ve already started the process of determining how this is going to be possible for us.  We’ve been told by Walter Reed that we will require IVF in order to conceive a child.  In the middle of April, we have a consultation with Shady Grove Fertility.

The best part… Tricare and the VA Specifically EXCLUDE all fertility treatments.  The cost of the treatments (which runs from $7,000 to $20,000) is completely on the solider and the family. It does not matter to the VA why the infertility is present.  It is simply not covered.  For the soldiers who are only suffering infertility as a result of their war injuries, thousands of dollars will be needed to hopefully make it happen.  To make their dream of having a family a reality will completely depend on their financial situation.  All families should be financially comfortable before having children.  But in this case, being financially ready is not similar to a family who conceives naturally.  It is forking out thousands of dollars before the child is even conceived!   I’ve heard people say… why not adopt?  My response to those people would be, have you considered the cost of adoption?  Also, the want and need to carry your own child can be unbearable.  It does not simply go away.  Plus when so much else has been taken from you, this is just another blow.  Every family deserves to have a family the way they choose.  It saddens and stresses me that Kevin & I will be faced with significant financial obligations in order to have our family.  However, we both agree, it will be worth it.

I will be sharing our story with fertility while we experience it.  We are sharing this to make people aware that this is a real problem.  Our government refuses to recognize it.  Men and woman who fight for us should not face significant financial obligations to have their families, if a war injury caused their infertility. We will be meeting with government officials to get their support with changing the laws that make it this way.  We will be asking for support in the future with issue and we hope you can add your voice!  Our hope is that by sharing such personal stories, we can make a difference for other people facing the same problems.  Our injured soldiers deserve the same opportunity to have the family that they could have had before their injuries.  We know the change will not come soon enough for us; but hopefully, we can help initiate change for others.

baby feet

18 thoughts on “The beginning of our journey with war related infertility

  1. Look into the Naval hospital in Southern California – I do know that there was a waiting list, but they did offer IVF to all branches (at one time). Of course, you have to pay the travel costs associated, but ….

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  2. Here – an update :
    Military Treatment Facilities offering IVF procedures:
    Wilford Hall, Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas.
    Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, HI.
    Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, MD.
    Naval Medical Center in San Diego, CA.
    Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, WA.

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  3. Wow thank you for sharing your story. I had no idea that so many people are going through this. It must be heartbreaking and I am sending all positive thoughts that you will have success with your IVF. xx

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  4. I will be following your journey with love, prayer and great appreciation for all you are going through. I am stunned to hear the VA still doesn’t cover these treatments that are so clearly the result of war related injury..a disgrace. i’ll be tracking this too. thanks. and God Bless you. janet byler

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  5. We went through thirteen years of fertility workups, frustration, etc. — and not for the same reasons you have. This was in the period when IVF was new so we weren’t candidates. We finally gave up. However, a friend put me in touch with RESOLVE (a support organization for individuals going through the agony of infertility), and they were a god send. Thanks to information they gave us, we are now the parents of three wonderful adult children. Their URL is http://www.resolve.org. Good luck.

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    • Thank you for sharing your story! That is amazing! I will be checking out RESOLVE! I have heard about the bill they are trying to pass for wounded soldiers but had a hard time finding updated information, but found it on their page! Thanks!

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  6. Tricare does cover fertility treatments for wounded soldiers!!!!!! My beautiful twins are a result of such. They were the first born under TriCare’s fertility coverage. We had our IVF covered 2.5 years ago. I really wish people would research before misinforming the public!!!!!

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    • I am glad to hear that you were able to do this with little cost to you! It means so much to be able to have your own family and I am glad you were able to. Things seem to be very inconsistent. We have been specifically told by Walter Reed IVF clinic that we will not be covered since he is retired. If he were active duty he would be covered. Trust me, I spend a lot of my time researching because this is very important to me. There is a bill that has been sent to Congress to try and get this fixed, however it has been rejected, but then resubmitted so we will see. Some medications will be covered through insurance but the actual conception part, the thousands of dollars part, will not be. Words directly from our doctors at Walter Reed who live and breath this.

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  7. 100% s/c veterans for certain can get fertility treatments like IUI…just not IVF. I start treatments on the 13th of this month and since I’m 100% there is no cost to me.

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    • Thank you for sharing! I wish you the best through your treatments! So far we have been told IVF is our only option since the numbers are so low. We are getting a second opinion at Shady Grove just to be sure. 🙂

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  8. I hate to inform you, but your doctors are incorrect, they are giving you the old policy, not the new one. The policy they are siting is for all soldiers, not specifically for wounded soldiers.

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  9. When I first seen then heading, I felt that fimilar tug at my heart. Until I read it, it related to me.
    I am a Desert Storm Vet, and I suffered with infertility for years; That is until I had to have a complete hysterectomy in 03.
    I joined the Marine Corps in 87 and got into “the fleet” October 88. My first duty station, Iwakuni, Japan. It was the best place to be at that point in my life; single and could travel. Once back state side I got stationed MCAS Cherry Point, where I would spend the duration of my time in service.
    Still not in a relationship, but was thinking about it and having children someday. So I prayed for a man to have that all with. And God sent him, just months before the Storm…we both have gotten all the predeployment shots and once in country we both ate those “non FDA regulated” pills. Once back from the war, we got married and tried to have kids…nope not able. Along with the constant pain and infections my tube attached themselves to my uterus. So after 3 scopes and reconstructive, I was ready to make a baby. Hind sight I may have been pregnant, but the menstrual pain began to always feel like labor. Husband deployed for 6 months and by the time hr got back one tube had died….
    Our marriage sucked after the findings of this all and by 1999 we were done…I had one more relationship and we also miscarried in 02 so in 03 I was done with the heartache of it all.
    I pray all of you trying for babies get your prayers answered…
    They are groups for women, and couples like me, but the heading of the article drew me in…

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