Serving in the military is a noisy endeavor. Many of our nation's veterans suffer from various forms of hearing loss issues, yet a majority either don't seek treatment or aren't aware that they might be eligible for hearing health care assistance.
Read on to find out about the various types of hearing loss suffered by military veterans and the type of assistance currently available.
Veterans and Hearing Loss
Every branch of the military exposes its soldiers to a myriad of loud noises. These might include deafening artillery, helicopters and jet engines, and other explosives as well as trauma to the ear or head. The prolonged exposure to the cacophony can result in various sorts of hearing problems.
According to the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), two the most common types of hearing issues among veterans are hearing loss and tinnitus, which is a buzzing or ringing in the ears. While there are some hearing health care benefits available to veterans, the awareness level isn't high which prevents many from seeking help.
Hearing Health Care for Veterans
Hearing health care for veterans isn't a new service. The VA hearing aids program began in the late 1950s to assist the thousands of World War II veterans who came home with hearing loss issues. Even today, the VA estimates that nearly 60,000 veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom suffer from some form of hearing loss. In 2001 alone, the VA issued more than 240,000 hearing aids to veterans.
Too often, veterans with hearing issues don't ask for help because they aren't aware of the benefits available. According to a 2011 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, veterans typically wait as long as seven years before seeking help for hearing loss. In many cases, that help is available through the Veteran's Administration.
Getting Help For Hearing Health
While hearing loss does tend to accelerate with age, those who have served in the military have a greater chance of experiencing service-related hearing issues. This makes them eligible for hearing health care services through the VA.
If you think that you are suffering from hearing loss, begin with a simple hearing test from your local hearing care professional and doctor of audiology. If you're a veteran, ask your hearing care professional about your available options and take advantage of today's innovative hearing aids and hearing protection products.