If you follow me on Facebook or basically any other social media I have probably been driving you nuts with my post lately. I’d apologize but I can’t because it is just that important. My Husband and I have been fighting for over a year now for Congress to pass legislation to allow the VA to provide IVF coverage to our wounded Veterans. I know other couples that have been fighting for over 6 years for the same thing. Year after year this gets put on the back burner. Year after year it is voted down or taken out. Every precious year during our child bearing years is quickly passing us by, while we wait for Congress to decide how they “feel” about IVF and other fertility treatments.
Congress- WE DO NOT HAVE TIME! 44% of Maryland’s Post 911 Veterans are in their prime child bearing years. When you hit around the age of 35 fertility discussions start to become different. My Husband spent 2.5 years at Walter Reed recovering from significant injuries that he sustained in Afghanistan during his first deployment in our Army’s Infantry. Kevin lost his leg and suffered extensive injuries to the rest of his body. He also lost a testicle that resulted in a significant decrease in fertility. Every test and doctor we have seen has said the same painful words, we will never have children on our own. We were told that we would be covered through the DOD if we did IVF while he was active duty. A perfect time to bring a child into the world… between surgeries and a very unstable situation… NOT! We made the responsible decision to hold off on having children until our life settled and we were ready. Since we waited, we lost coverage for IVF treatments that we needed. The VA cannot provide IVF treatments to any Veterans, including those who need it because of a war related injuries. After Kevin retired the VA ran every test, looking for options because they desperately wanted to help us. Unfortunately they had to tell us that they were unable to help. Why? Because our government placed a ban that prohibits the VA from providing the treatments. The funny part is, the DOD is able provide it. Why is there a difference between the two?
When we met with members of Congress we were hit with some pro-life issues. Apparently pro-life is not an issue for DOD even though the IVF is provided the exact same way. IVF is as pro-life as you get. We are starting life, we are trying to have a family, not end it. I’m not sure why our veterans are being hit with these questions when all they are asking is to start a family and to have a more normal life. It is unfair and unethical to make them feel anything other than supported when trying to pursue their dream of having a family!
Our life will never be normal because of war. Parts of my husbands body are somewhere in Afghanistan and the 2.5 years he spent recovering he will never be able to get back. Does he regret it… no, he doesn’t. His Mom had to live with him for about 2 years to care for him through over 30 surgeries. Now he is medically retired. He is going to school for his Bachelors degree. He is ready to be a Dad. His Mom, who had to wonder if her son would survive, is ready to hold his baby-her Grandbaby. This is what normal looks like for so many. All we are asking is for a piece of normal, to be able to be parents.
The reason I am pushing so hard for support now is because Congress will soon be going on break. If this is not voted on as a yes, more years will continue to pass and more families will be faced with trying to figure out how to have a family. Like I said before, many of these soldiers are in their child bearing years now, they do not have time for this to take longer! Our wounded service members deserve better. The ultimate goal of recovery after a war injury is to go on with life as normal as possible, to make the person whole again. By passing these bills we are helping to make these men and women who already gave so much, whole again.
If you have children, look at them and ask yourself what you would do to bring them into this world if you had to do it all over again. That is all we are doing. Our baby is not due until August, but we know the love for her is immeasurable because we have and will do anything to bring her to us. We will also do anything we have to make sure other people in our situation do not have to feel the way our Government has made us feel.
Please help us by sharing with Congress your thoughts. We welcome you to use our story. There’s over 2000 known cases of Veterans who now face infertility because of war injuries. Let’s stand up for these people and help change their lives. So often we hear “thank you for your service” and we know the people mean well but a true thank you is to help fight for these men and women. The link I am going to post is a quick and easy to write your representatives requesting that they support these bills. You do not even have to look up your representatives, they do it for you! You don’t even have a to type the letter, it is done for you (although you are welcome to add and change things). You simply put your name and address and it is done! Something so simple could change the lives of so many and would truly be a meaningful “thank you for your service” for so many!