They fight for our country, but they're facing new struggles when they return home.
Women who served in the military are dealing with higher than normal rates of infertility. In fact, a new study shows one in three women are facing this issue.
Rebecca Lipe was in the field all across Iraq in 2011 as a jag officer in the Air Force when she was medically evacuated because of crippling abdominal pains.
"They didn't know why I was in so much pain," Lipe said.
It was more than a year before the problem was correctly diagnosed as a sports hernia from her bullet proof vest.
By that time, she says, incorrect treatments left her infertile.
"To say that the treatment of females especially when it comes to reproductive methods is minimal at best, is putting it lightly," she said.
Results of a new online survey by the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) found Lipe is far from alone. About one in three current and former service women in the study reported problems with infertility – much higher than the 12 percent rate among the general population.
"Clearly the report and the research that we found is a call to action to the department of defense to investigate," said Antonieta Rico of SWAN.
An official at the Pentagon told Boston 25 that the Department of Defense does track infertility data. A 2011 analysis found less than 1 percent of female service members diagnosed with infertility
As for Rebecca Lipe, she turned to IVF to conceive her daughter Genevieve.
"It took me six rounds of in vitro to have my daughter," Lipe said. "We lost 3 babies along the way."
And better data on veteran infertility will be coming next year: the rand corporation says they've been hired to study women's health in the Department of Defense. It'll be the first department-wide study of women's health since 1989.
There's also been some progress in the department of Veterans' Affairs.
Last year, the department started paying for IVF treatment for veterans who cannot conceive because of injuries sustained in service. For two decades Congress banned the VA from offering the procedure.
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