|by Bryant Jordan

 Troops who suffered injuries to their genitals – a type of wound that has increased in Iraq and Afghanistan with the enemy’s use of IEDs – are now eligible for a one-time payment of up to $100,000, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced Friday.

The payment, under Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance Traumatic Injury Protection, will be in addition to VA health care for genitourinary problems and disability compensation for service-related injuries or illnesses involving genitourinary organs.

“We recognize that these types of injuries are devastating and can have a long-lasting impact on the servicemember’s quality of life,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said in a statement. “It is for this reason that it is appropriate to include genitourinary injuries in the list of payable losses specified in the TSGLI program.”

Both men and women are eligible for the payments.

Adding genitourinary injuries to the schedule of covered losses under SGLI comes as military doctors are reporting an increase in these types of injuries, many the results of wounds sustained by improvised explosive devices, according to the VA.

Earlier this year the U.S. Army Medical Command released data on genital injuries but would not discuss the wounds, according to a report in The Washington Post. The paper quoted the Army’s chief of public affairs as saying discussing wounds or injuries to genitals “can potentially provide insights to our enemies into the effectiveness of their improvised explosive devices and other weapons they use."

The Federal Register announcement on the change includes Defense Department reports indicating that from 2009 to 2010, the proportion of war casualties transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany with these types of injuries increased from 4.8 percent to 9.1 percent.

DoD also found that approximately 570 servicemembers sustained genitourinary injuries between October 7, 2001, and May 2, 2011, the announcement states, citing a Joint Theater Trauma Registry report. The announcement also notes that the Army’s Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston found that 5 percent of servicemembers on the Joint Theater Trauma Registry who were admitted as a result of trauma in overseas contingency operations between October 2001 and January 2008 had one or more genitourinary injuries.

Under the compensation schedule for genitourinary injuries, physical loss or permanent loss of use of the penis will result in a $50,000 one-time payment. Compensation for loss of a testicle is $25,000; $50,000 for loss of both, according to the Federal Register.

Physical loss or permanent loss of the use of the vulva, uterus or the vaginal canal carries a $50,000 compensation payment. Compensation for loss – physical or permanent use – of ovaries is $25,000 each. There is also a $50,000 compensation provision for total and permanent loss of urinary system function.

The VA said today that the first payments for genitourinary losses were going out today, with eligibility for the losses retroactive to injuries incurred on or after Oct. 7, 2001, when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks.