Legislation would put VA in baby business

Many warriors lose fertility on battlefield

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Mr. Tarantino said the veteran population cries out for the care.

Especially in Afghanistan, where many troops patrol on foot in heavily mined areas, some blasts cause debilitating injures to the reproductive organs.

“You have young men and women, 18 to 30 years old who were planning on starting families. Suddenly, they can’t do it through traditional means because they’ve suffered a blast injury below the waist,” he said.

More than 2,000 active-duty military members sustained injury to their genitals or urinary tracts in fiscal 2012 and 2013, according to Lt. Col. Cathy Wilkinson, a Defense Department spokeswoman, though it’s unclear how many of those would have trouble having children because of their injuries.

Mr. Tarantino spoke specifically about in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy and sperm extraction as procedures that could help injured veterans conceive, but said some unique injuries may require creativity to find a solution.

“We want to leave it broad enough to allow for treatment options,” he said.

Mr. Tarantino said the topic is uncomfortable to discuss but is just about helping veterans start families after being injured while serving their country.

“Usually everyone just clams up and doesn’t want to talk about this,” he said. “This is not something as visible as losing an arm or a leg, it’s not on the top of people’s minds. The more we educate people about the needs of service members, the less resistance we can have and the more we can help these people.”

Mr. Sanders‘ bill also would boost adoption benefits for wounded warriors who can’t have children naturally because of service-related injuries. Under current law, the military will refund up to $2,000 of adoption expenses per child, and no more than $5,000 per calendar year.

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