Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Comment of the day: Military docs, do better dealing with my lost testicles

In case you didn’t see this last week, from "LeftmylegsinAfghanistan": I’m an infantry PL that lost both legs above the knees and both testicles while chasing ghosts in the Arghandab. I’ve spent just about three years undergoing rehab and training with prosthetics and I will be the first to applaud the level of care that ...

MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images
MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images
MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images

In case you didn't see this last week, from "LeftmylegsinAfghanistan":

I'm an infantry PL that lost both legs above the knees and both testicles while chasing ghosts in the Arghandab.

I've spent just about three years undergoing rehab and training with prosthetics and I will be the first to applaud the level of care that I've received from the Army and from Walter Reed, but I will also be the first to tell you that WR's great care comes to an abrupt halt with regard to genital wounds and reproductive issues. While my limbs have received a tremendous level of attention, my infertility has never once been addressed. Early in my recovery a urologist prescribed me a testosterone replacement medication, but no one even brought up the fact that the urologist was woefully ill-equipped to deal with what is mostly an endocrinologist's issue.

In case you didn’t see this last week, from "LeftmylegsinAfghanistan":

I’m an infantry PL that lost both legs above the knees and both testicles while chasing ghosts in the Arghandab.

I’ve spent just about three years undergoing rehab and training with prosthetics and I will be the first to applaud the level of care that I’ve received from the Army and from Walter Reed, but I will also be the first to tell you that WR’s great care comes to an abrupt halt with regard to genital wounds and reproductive issues. While my limbs have received a tremendous level of attention, my infertility has never once been addressed. Early in my recovery a urologist prescribed me a testosterone replacement medication, but no one even brought up the fact that the urologist was woefully ill-equipped to deal with what is mostly an endocrinologist’s issue.

In my experience, no one in the military’s medical system wants to address this issue. Some of our guys have testicles, or pieces of their testicles, that make it back to the CSH at Bagram or KAF, but there is no procedure for harvesting and freezing sperm or tissue that could be used for fertility treatments in the future. There are methods for this (utilized most commonly prior to chemotherapy treatments), but as the article mentioned, the military medical system will not even cover IVF for couples that cannot conceive as a result of a service member’s combat injuries.

There is no effort to improve this situation. I applaud David Wood for bringing this issue to the surface, but I’m afraid that the attention this generates, as almost always, will be brief.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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