For the growing number of soldiers and Marines whose genitals are damaged or destroyed by blasts from improvised explosive devices while in combat, the Pentagon has decided it will not provide some critical reproductive health benefits.
To put it bluntly, if you are sent to war and an IED blast blows off your testicles, the U.S. government will not pay for your wife to have in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination using donated sperm.
The new policy, quietly adopted without announcement by the Defense Department, responds to the growing demands of the more than 1,800 veterans with genital wounds that the government that sent them to war now help them return to normal life, including raising a family.
The policy authorizes payment for some reproductive procedures for the first time, including limited in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination. But it also specifically excludes covering males who cannot produce sperm. "Third-party donations and surrogacy are not covered benefits," the policy states firmly.
The Pentagon decision dashes the hopes of a growing number of young Americans wounded in combat and unable to produce sperm who had wanted to start a family. In one recent U.S. military study, the average age of those with genital wounds was 24 years. The majority of those in military service -- 56 percent -- aremarried.
Pentagon officials were not immediately available to explain their decision to deny benefits to couples like Heather andMark Litynski, a Marinewho lost both legs and his left arm, along with his testicles, to an IED blast in Afghanistan almost two years ago.