In December, the Quality of Life Foundation attended a conference hosted in Washington, DC by the Bob Woodruff Foundation dedicated to addressing the issue of intimacy after injury. In this groundbreaking two day event, the first of its kind to take on these issues, caregivers shared their deeply personal experiences with struggling to regain physical and emotional intimacy with their veteran-partners as a result of trauma sustained in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as fears and challenges with starting a family post-injury. These experiences ranged from struggles to regain emotional connection following the horrors of war, physical intimacy limitations due to combat injury, and policy barriers to fertility treatment in the VA healthcare system.
Many Americans may believe that the consequences of injuries sustained in battle are confined uniquely to the veteran. It is understandable to feel that his or her body has sustained damage and that he or she alone bears that pain and loss. The women on the first panel of the day tell a very different story. Injuries that impact intimacy, rather physical or emotional, affect not just the injured individual, but the couple as a whole.
The loss of intimacy, including as several wives shared, the potential loss of a future family, is a cost born by partners as well as veterans. Thanks to pioneers in the medical field, veterans advocates, and those courageous women willing to share their stories in an effort to benefit of those who will follow them, this conversation is just getting started, and these difficult challenges are getting the attention they must have if there is to be progress in this critical recovery area.
Please check out this article for details on the issues and the conference.
The Quality of Life Foundation is committed to serving veteran caregivers and addressing all quality of life needs as we are able. We are founded on the core belief that caregivers – be they wives, mothers, siblings or friends, are recovery partners on the journey to health with their veteran, and face their own unique challenges that deserve attention, resources and solutions.
There are exciting new developments out there – working groups at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and San Antonio Military Medical Center are creating practical guides to help couples adjust to new bodies. Legislative advocates are working to ensure policy is appropriate to this conflict’s injuries. Above all, these valuable voices are being heard.