Paralyzed soldier faces VA setback trying to start a family
It’s an issue millions of couples face every year: the inability to conceive a child.
Such is the case for Army Corporal Tyler Wilson and his fiancé, Crystal.
Back in 2005, Wilson was badly injured during a firefight in Afghanistan. He was left paralyzed from the waist down.
For the past decade, the Department of Veterans Affairs has provided him with free health care. Though, he and his wife recently learned of a gaping hole in their coverage.
The department does not provide in vitro fertilization or other fertility services.
Because of that, Wilson and his wife they are on their own in paying for fertility treatments, which cost more than $15,000 each attempt.
“It’s always been one of those dreams—to have a family, but this has been really hard on both of us,” Wilson said.
They certainly aren’t alone in their financial struggle: Only 15 states have passed laws that require insurers to either cover or offer coverage for infertility diagnosis and treatment. Colorado is not one of them.
Wilson believes for veterans in his position, unable to conceive naturally because of war wounds, the VA should cover fertility help.
“This is one area where the ball was dropped and it essentially feels like a slap in the face,” Wilson said.
In an effort to help Cpl. Wilson, Dr. William Schoolcraft, founder of Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine, has stepped into help.
His clinic is taking care of 50 percent of the costs associated with IVF. Schoolcraft said his move is part of a larger nationwide initiative to help veterans start families, who otherwise could not without medical assistance.
“Hopefully this will just be a part of that process of change, so that veterans will have that benefit available to them,” Schoolcraft said.
A recent study by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that 15.8 percent of female and 13.8 percent of male Iraq and Afghanistan veterans report they are not able to conceive children.
Dr. Schoolcraft is just one medical expert in support of new legislation recently introduced to congress to expand fertility services to certain disabled veterans.
A bill co-sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman is being heard next week. Wilson and Black plan to head to Washington D.C. to support the new legislation that would offer compensation for veterans unable to conceive as a result of war wounds.
In a statement to 9NEWS, Representative Mike Coffman, a marine corp. combat veteran said: “We owe our veterans not only our thanks, we owe them the care they have earned. I’m honored to co-sponsor legislation that will provide IVF coverage to our veterans injured in the line of duty.”
The couple began IVF last summer and will find out if they are expecting on June 15th. They are getting married in Crested Butte on July 1.
Copyright 2016 KUSA