Hundreds of military families have had access to fertility treatments in recent years but not all veterans qualify for them. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, 567 families have benefited from in vitro fertilization since the military started covering the procedures in 2016 but veterans who are single still have to pay for the roughly $12,000 treatment on their own.
Toni Hackney said she'd always planned on being a mom, but the call of duty complicated her ambitions. After serving in the United States Army for 16 years, Hackney decided to start a family in retirement. But complications meant exploring in vitro fertility treatments. When Hackney looked to Veterans Affairs, it wouldn't pay – because she isn't married.
"Whether people like it or not, as a female in the military if you're not there more than your male counterpart, the odds of you getting promoted or getting a good evaluation, it's not, it's not there," Hackney told CBS News' Michelle Miller.
She ultimately rose to the rank of staff sergeant and a military career that took her all over the world.
"I'm a veteran, I have to be married ... But yet a male veteran's wife can get IVF, but I can't as a veteran. This doesn't make sense to me," Hackney said. "It's taking away my life dream of being a mother."
But being married is not the only requirement to receive IVF benefits. Qualifying veterans must also prove a service-connected condition that causes infertility, have a male spouse who can produce sperm and a female spouse who can produce eggs.
Hackney said an illness caused her infertility while on active duty. A doctor at the VA suggested IVF could lead to a family in retirement. The cost, however, was on her.
"I need to feel that love that only your child can give to you. I need to have a decent chance at that."
A House bill was introduced last month to expand coverage of fertility treatments, including IVF, to all veterans. Hackney is hoping it becomes law in time for her.
Hackney has started a GoFundMe page to pay for her treatments.