Army Sargent Kevin Jaye was on foot patrol in Afghanistan three months ago. He trigged a pressure plate of an explosive device that blasted and tore of right leg and caused severe damage to his lower torso and left leg. Jaye has spent almost two years at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He has undergone more than 30 surgeries and numerous physical therapies. He is currently retired from the military but require continued medical support from the Veterans Affairs Department. It should be noted here that almost all of Jaye?s problems related to the combat injuries are recovered except for his fertility.
According to Jaye, the explosion ?destroyed my reproductive system.? He is now left with a low testosterone and a negligible sperm count. In other words, it is impossible for him to father any children without medical assistance. But, the VA only provides treatments and surgeries to enhance a veteran?s chances of creating a baby. However, it does not participate into vitro fertilization and other advanced reproductive treatments. Currently, there are around 1,800 to 2,000 troops requiring help to start a family.
Jaye along with his wife Lauren were able to get fertility treatments through the employer-provided health insurance for Lauren. However, since there are no changes into the 1992 law that restricts the VA to provide vitro fertilization treatments, Jaye and Lauren will only be able to parent one child as they have maxed out their $30,000 insurance cap on fertility treatments. Their baby girl is due in August.
According to Kevin Jaye during a visit to Congress to talk about the law to be revised, ?We have fought so hard to have a child. ? VA covers everything else, why not this? It?s heartbreaking.?
Senator Patty Murray, D-Wash, has been trying for more than five years to pass a legislation that would allow the VA to cover vitro fertilization and other specialty fertility services.
?This is just so wrong to me. ? People in America need to stand up and say this is a wound of war and this country needs to pay for it,? Murray added.
Murray sponsored an amendment recently to the Senate Military construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill allowing them to allocate around $88 million for the VA to cover fertility treatments. She added that veterans with groin injuries, paralyzed veterans and former service members who have suffered head trauma may require treatments and counseling to start a family and they shouldn?t be forced to pay out of their pockets.
The Pentagon announced earlier this year that they would create a pilot program to cover the cost of freezing eggs or sperms of active duty troops in order to provide better family planning options and to preserve a service member?s fertility before they are deployed.