Republicans Deny War Vets Fertility

My husband and I have always felt strongly that war veterans deserve more than they actually receive—after serving their country, after risking their lives, and after returning to civilian life often with medical needs, chronic pain, disability, joblessness, mental illness, to name a just a few challenges, all of which in turn have greater implications for their future, for their families, and for their ability to become active, participating citizens in their communities, in their country, the very country for which they were called to fight.  So needless to say, I was shocked to learn Veteran Benefits do not cover fertility treatments and adoption costs.  In fact, covering fertility treatments for war vets has been banned since 1992!

As of Thursday, February 27, 2014, Republicans took steps to block a vote on a bill that would expand various programs for War Vets and their families, including fertility treatments to those that have injuries to the reproductive organs, among numerous other much-needed care and services.  In contrast, the Republicans have their own bill, with a much smaller budget that specifically leaves out any fertility treatment for wounded vets and their spouses.This means even if you’ve sustained an injury or lost sexual organs while serving your country, among violence and horror, placing life and limb in danger, wars waged in the name of protecting liberty and American way of life, the US government does not feel these should be given basic services to help you build your future—you don’t deserve the right to have your own family and thrive in the very country you fought to protect.

And yes, fertility treatment and adoption are basic service for anyone who is infertile.  Just as cardiology and oncology are considered basic coverage for those with diagnosed with heart disease and cancer, reproductive endocrinology is also a basic service to anyone diagnosed with infertility.

The GOP and right-winged activists can spend money, resources, political capital to fight against reproductive rights and to determine who has the right to marry who, all in the name of morality, but failing Women and Men who serve this country is not about morality?

Based on the reasoning given in various articles, it seems Republicans are prioritizing based on what will generate votes in the elections ahead and Veterans are not considered one of those issues that will impact votes.  According to Alan Fram’s article in the Huffington Post:

“Republicans said there would be no retribution from voters because the Democratic bill would have harmed veterans’ services by flooding them with too many people. They also said this year’s election campaigns will focus on other issues, such as President Barack Obama’s health law.

“We’re sort of fooling ourselves to believe that this drives the election issue list,” said Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, top Republican on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Thursday’s showdown came after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., refused to allow votes on a GOP amendment slicing the bill’s size and adding the penalties against Iran for its nuclear program.”

In particular, leaving out fertility coverage in GOP bill is justified as a way to reduce VA costs, of course.

Republicans have previously said they opposed the measure because of its price tag. It would cost roughly $568 million to provide wounded veterans with fertility treatments over the next five years, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and the money would come out of wartime contingency funds.

The VA has been prohibited from covering fertility treatments for wounded veterans since 1992. If the ban were overturned, about 1,800 veterans would qualify for the service, according to the Joint Theater Trauma Registry. Their average age is 26, and many of them have lost or severely wounded their genitals in IED explosions.

With such a young war vet population facing infertility, these wounds rob the women and men of their futures in such a big way.  And the US government is impotent if it can’t at least give their heroes a chance at a family..

I feel like I have to ask the obvious.  If infertility is the result of serving one’s country, the US government and leaders don’t think it’s their responsibility to provide medical coverage in this particular area?  VA benefits cover medical care (while not optimally) for treatments such as prosthetics and rehabilitation for loss and injury to limbs, but injury to sexual organs is exempt?

I don’t know where to begin about what underlies such stupid logic.  Is it the usual American discomfort with sex?  Or the arrogance of “Fertiles” who think that infertility is not their problem?  I believe there are several beliefs that color people’s perceptions around infertility, such as, the idea that “everyone is having children.  Just look around.  It can’t be that hard.”  Or the idea that infertility treatments are a luxury or for those who can’t accept their childless fate or simply see such medical intervention as extreme measures.

By depriving war vets fertility treatment, this government is adding financial burden as well as emotional and mental stress on the same women and men they claim to honor.

I wonder about the history of VA benefits, and now I’ll be motivated to learn more.  Was there a period when basic medical care for war vets post war was not considerate necessary either, such as rehabilitation or prosthetic limbs?

While at war, politicians speak of heroism and honor and medals, but once it’s over, the same people who called for war and make it happen, then want to pretend that there is no consequences, that there is no impact on the women and men that return after the war, and that their responsibility to these people is a minimum at best.  Nowhere is this shameless and open disregard more evident than in the way GOP repeatedly takes steps to deny sufficient funding for VA programs.

In contrast, many of GOP members have interests in companies that have made a lot of money off the wars, with special contracts during a war and then additional contracts to rebuild after the war.  In addition, both the multi-billion dollar companies AND the billionaire/millionaire individuals that run them receive tax breaks and government subsidies.

And yet, the Republicans are concerned with the cost of fertility treatments burdening the system.  They clearly are not anticipating the cost of mental health care and loss of productivity by individuals who are coping with infertility, not to mention the ripple effect on family systems they so claim to cherish and protect.

Oh. And why did this block happen by the Republicans?  Apparently, because Democrats wouldn’t agree to sanctions against Iran, which GOP tried to include in this very unrelated bill on benefits.  Iran issues aside and if Iran is so important, I don’t think these people realize that should there be another war of any kind, they are going to need the same women and men for service to which they give such little priority.  Perhaps protective gear will eventually include pelvic armor or bullet proof underwear manufactured by companies that will be getting government huge contracts to make them.  Now that’s a cost GOP will stand behind.


Links to articles:

Senate blocks Dems’ bill boosting vets’ benefits
Republican Bill Excludes Fertility Treatments For Vets With Genital Wounds
Senate GOP Blocks Veterans Bill
Senate blocks huge vets benefits bill


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