These veterans now serve here on our team at AMS Vans, Inc! We appreciate all that you’ve done and all that you continue to do![/caption]
On days like today, words fall short. We know any move that we make to show our appreciation will be inadequate in comparison to the sacrifice that has been made. Still, we are thankful. We are thankful for the sacrifices, and you do not go unseen by all. Continue reading →
On October 14, AMS Vans is participating in disAbility Link’s Doggie Day event! This event will educate folks about service dogs, offer low-cost vaccinations for your service dog, and have fun activities and prizes for kids!
Service dogs are a worth-while investment because they have, in fact, been proven to enhance the lives of their partners by making them feel more independent, which in turn boosts self-esteem and provides more opportunities to experience more things. Continue reading →
While generally the Pentagon provides benefits to soldiers who’ve suffered damage to their genitals from IEDs or other explosives during combat, many reproductive health benefits continue to remain elusive. For example, if a male soldier returns from battle with a wound that prevents him from reproducing, such as an explosion that destroys or completely removes his testicles, then he and his wife will not receive benefits from the U.S. government to fund an in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination from donor sperm.
The Defense Department adopted this policy, with no announcement, as a result of the overwhelming number of wounded soldiers who’ve expressed the belief that the government that sent them to war should provide them with the financial assistance they need to start families once they return. Over 1,800 veterans with genital wounds expressed this belief, and consequently, the Pentagon recently changed its policy regarding the amount of compensation and eligibility the government will provide wounded veterans who’ve had their genitals damaged.
At least one aspect of the policy at issue here is the eligibility of those who can expect to receive compensation. To explain, while the new policy allows limited in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination, it specifically does not provide benefits to those males who are unable to produce sperm.
According to the policy, “Third-party donations and surrogacy are not covered benefits.” For obvious reasons this policy has caused great concern, as it affects a significant number of individuals. For instance, according to a military study, the average age of veterans with genital wounds was 24 years, and 56% of those in the service were married.
Also at issue here is the amount of compensation available for those who’ve suffered genital wounds or complete loss of reproductive capabilities. It would seem that the current policies of the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs don’t seem to add up for those who’ve suffered both catastrophic injuries as well as genital loss or damage. To explain, the current policy pays up to $100,000 to the severely wounded to help them finance accessibility needs (e.g., wheelchairs, making one’s home and car accessible). The policy also allots an additional $50,000 for those who’ve lost their genitals in combat. However, the issue here is that the VA has a cap on the amount of lifetime benefits a veteran may receive here, so once a veteran’s benefits exceeds the $100,000 mark for his amputations, he is unable to collect on the remaining $50,000 that he was allotted as a result of a his genital injury.
This additional benefit is critical to those with both amputation and genital injuries, as the costs of procedures such as in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination can be costly—easily $5,000. Furthermore, those veterans wishing to consider other means of starting families, such as adoption, find themselves faced with other financial hurdles, as the cost of adoption currently runs about $30,000. The high costs of these procedures and processes means that veterans, their spouses, and their future families could all benefit greatly from that additional $50,000.
Since 2005, the roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused over 34,000 U.S. casualties. Recent Pentagon data indicates that through May of this year, approximately 3,000 soldiers have died as a result of these bombs, and another 31,000 have been wounded. Of those wounded, some 1,800 troops suffered genital wounds.
These veterans already have a difficult time adjusting to civilian life as they must work through the complete devastation of having lost limbs. To further complicate matters, many wounded veterans return home from war only to find themselves unemployed or not able find work. Having to acknowledge the loss of one’s sexual capabilities can easily compound these difficulties for veterans–making the period of adjustment that much longer.
This past summer, Senator Patty Murray of Washington State introduced legislature to overturn the exclusion of fertility treatments for soldiers struggling with starting a family after disability. The Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2012 is currently in committee and awaiting passage in the House and Senate. If this gains approval, many soldiers and their spouses could see their dreams coming true. We will keep you posted as we hear more.
A team of researchers and surgeons from the University of Utah and the George E. Wahlen Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salt Lake City are working hard to address the needs of the thousands of wartime veterans returning home with limb amputations unable to support traditional prosthetics. Often these veterans have skin issues or lack ample remaining limb length to qualify for the standard socket-type attachment system.
The researchers have spent the last six years developing an alternate solution that involves osseointegrated direct skeletal attachment of prosthetic limbs. The device is implanted directly into the remaining bone, then passes through the skin so that a prosthetic limb cam be attached without the need for a socket. Nothing like this has been attempted before in the United States, and only 250 procedures have been attempted world wide, with mixed results.
“We are trying desperately to provide relief to the many veterans who have lost a limb,” says Roy Bloebaum, professor of orthopaedics at the University of Utah and the director of the VA Bone and Joint Research Lab. “Most of these people are very young and have many years to live. Our goal is to give them back all of the abilities they had before they were injured.”
Recently, the researchers, which include Kent Bachus, an engineer, professor, and director of the Orthopaedic Research Lab at the University of Utah, and Peter Beck, an orthopaedic surgeon and adjunct professor of orthopaedics, partnered with DJO Surgical. DJO Surgical is a global developer and manufacturer of medical devices that has licensed the implant technology and is playing an active role in the remaining research and development.
The Food and Drug Administration accepted the device into a program that permits designing a human early feasibility study. DJO Surgical applied for the FDA study and will be responsible for managing the implementation of the study, which will last up to three years. During the three years, ten patients will have the device implanted. The team can develop and refine the device between each operation, which supporters hope will streamline the refinement process and compress the development cycle.
The three problems that must be overcome include getting the bone to grow into the device, preventing infection, and addressing the skin interface. The team of researchers believes they have overcome these problems by coating the titanium device with a porous titanium material called P2 (P squared), which allows skin and bone to grow into the material to form a secure bond.
“We are excited to sign this partnership agreement with the University of Utah and Dr. Bloebaum,” says Bryan Monroe, DJO’s senior vice president and general manager of DJO Surgical. “With the combination of our proprietary titanium P2 porous coating and Dr. Bloebaum’s unique approach for percutaneous osseointegrated prosthesis, we believe that we have developed a winning solution that will have a monumental impact on the lives of amputees.”
The three researchers have quite a way to go before hospitals will consider offering their implant prosthesis. They are working on securing $5 million in grants and other partnerships similar to the partnership with DJO Surgical, so they may fine tune and perfect the process and device.
Taylor Morris and Danielle Kelly have the kind of love story that you might have thought only Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook, A Walk to Remember) could dream up. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy goes off to war… but this couple currently capturing the hearts of the world has had a rough road to happily ever after. On May 3, while serving as a Navy Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician, Morris stepped on an old IED. He lost both legs, his left arm, and his right hand.
“As soon as I stepped on it, I knew,” Morris said. “There was a moment, then I heard the blast. I felt the head. I knew I had lost my legs. As I somersaulted through the air, I watched my legs fly off.”
Few people survive such an explosion, let alone the quadruple amputation that followed his accident. Morris never lost consciousness and was in control enough to make medics stay back until the area was declared safe.
His girlfriend recalls the day of the fateful explosion, “I don’t think a second of that day will ever fade from my memory. I try not to think back on that day, because it brings back all the raw feelings. Instead, we are looking forward.”
Looking forward and moving forward, to be exact. While Morris has been recovering and going through intensive physical therapy at Walter Reed, the couple is making big plans for the future, thanks to the kindness of strangers.
The website The Chive posted the couple’s story in May, where Morris confided the pair’s joint plans to eventually have a waterfront log cabin. The Chive, in an effort to recognize Morris’s sacrifice, asked for donations. The story went viral, raising over $250,000 for the hero and his future bride.
Even though his accident was just five months ago, Morris is beating all of the odds. Not only did he survive, but less than four months after the accident, he was already able to travel back home to Iowa for the wedding of close friends, where he was filmed upright on prosthetics and dancing with his sweetheart!
Be warned: you’ll want to have the tissues handy when you watch this video!