On the day before U.S. Army Veteran Chris Hull’s birthday at 5:45pm, he received the best gift of all: daughter Penelope Jane.
Prior to that day, you might have found it difficult to identify something Chris was more passionate about than wheelchair rugby. But that late April blessing changed everything.
“I got a really good birthday present!” Chris says. “I’ve always wanted to have a family – and with this beautiful baby and a beautiful wife, I feel like the luckiest man alive.”
Penelope Jane was born via IVF thanks to VA benefits. But this provision is only temporary, and PVA is lobbying for legislation to make IVF a permanent part of benefits for injured Veterans who want to start a family. Chris and and wife Ash would love to see that happen so they could have another child one day, and so other Veterans with infertility challenges can have families, as well.
Chris joined the Army at age 16, just after September 11th. Just before he was about to be deployed to Iraq, he took leave so he could say goodbye to his loved ones. While on the trip, his buddy fell asleep at the wheel, and he was in a car accident on Friday the 13th at Exit 13, instantly paralyzing him.
He broke eleven bones in his body in the accident, in addition to suffering a traumatic brain injury. He underwent multiple surgeries to fix fractures in both his wrist and neck and his road to recovery was complicated by illness and infections; rehab would take seven months of inpatient therapy.
Chris treated his recovery as a job he needed to do, which he says made it easier. He fell in love with wheelchair rugby and then, with Ash. They knew they wanted to start a family. “I feel like we have a lot to give as parents,” Chris says.
Thanks to the temporary IVF benefit, they were able to have Penelope, who is the light of their life. “She is so cute,” says Ash. “She loves to be cuddled. And her hands are always in the air or on her face. She loves to sleep like that.”
PVA continues to fight to make this benefit permanent for all Veterans.
“While we are pleased that procreative services remain temporarily available for catastrophically disabled Veterans, our work is not done,” said Maureen Elias, PVA Associate Legislative Director in a recent statement to Congress. “The uncertainty of refunding every year is very disruptive to the family and their financial planning. Veterans should not face the choice of rushing to grow their family because they are worried this service might not be refunded.”