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Post: A new VA policy covers fertility treatments for more vets, but some are still excluded

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A new VA policy covers fertility treatments for more vets, but some are still excluded
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Amber Bohlman served as a logistical vehicle operator in the Marine Corps from 2005-2009. She and her partner Peter Folsom tried to conceive for years. While the VA has expanded its IVF eligibility to include couples who aren’t legally married, Bohlman is still excluded because her fertility issues have not been linked to her military service. Before her son was born, Amber Bohlman went to three fertility clinics, took hormones for five years, traveled out-of-state to meet with specialists, and tried a variety of treatments.

"It got to the point where my hair was starting to fall out," Bohlman, a Marine Corps veteran, said about the hormones’ effects. "It was just really hard on my body, continuing to do this."

But Bohlman and her long-term partner, Peter Folsom, were limited in the kinds of fertility treatments they could try. The VA wouldn’t pay for the treatment that doctors kept recommending.

"Every step of the way, my doctors were like, ‘We suggest IVF. You should be doing IVF.’ I was like, ‘Okay, but that’s not covered.’"

For decades, the Department of Veterans Affairs did not cover in vitro fertilization for unmarried, single, and LGBTQ veterans.

Bohlman and Folsom crunched the numbers and estimated that IVF would cost them more than $20,000 out of pocket. It’s a complicated and lengthy procedure with no guarantee. Bohlman decided to stick with hormone therapy, despite the toll it was taking on her body.

That’s when she got a surprise.

"We got the hormones in the mail," Bohlman said. "I took a month off because obviously those hormones were horrific and I really just needed a month to not be on them. And that’s when we got pregnant."

Her son is now two months old.In March, the VA reversed its rule so that more veterans can access IVF treatment, including those who aren’t legally married. But Bohlman and Folsom have another obstacle. The VA will only pay for IVF if a veteran’s fertility problems are from a service-related injury.In Bohlman’s case, doctors can’t determine the cause."Unexplained infertility," Bohlman said, quoting her doctors. "They could not tell me why I wasn’t getting pregnant or […]

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