The Prevalence Of Hearing Problems Amongst Vets

Hearing loss appears to be the most prevalent veteran injury. Indeed, in a recent study, it was found that some 1.2 million veteran health claims were relating to hearing loss, costing over $1.1 billion. The frightening thing about this is that most of this hearing loss is caused by exposure to noise, which we know to be 100% preventable. Unfortunately, it seems that there is a significant lack of understanding and training about protective hearing devices. As a result, too many soldiers still experience problems. It is also for this reason that soldiers deserve the proper care and attention when they do need a hearing aid.

Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to determine exactly how many soldiers actually suffer from hearing loss. We do know, however, that some 70,000 soldiers currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq (there are 1.3 million there in total) are receiving disability payment for hearing problems. This is worrying, even if the figures are getting better. What makes matters worse is that the link between warfare and hearing loss has been documented clearly since WWII. Both WWII and Vietnam returned veterans with significant hearing problems caused by exposure to artillery fire and helicopters. No protection was available to them, and it seems there is still a lack of that now.

Of course, nowadays, veterans receive both treatment and compensation if they have hearing loss, usually provided by the Veterans Association. Unfortunately, however, a lot of soldiers do not seek this help, either because they hope it will simply go away, or because they do not know it is there. It now also seems that a lot of veterans are turning to private professionals to deal with their hearing loss, unaware that the Veterans Association is there for them, and it is hugely important that they are signposted to the correct services through here. These veterans deserve a great deal of respect and help, regardless of where they turn to. One of the problems is that a private audiologist often doesn’t have the skills to deal with the complicated mental issues a veteran has to cope with as well. Besides having to come to terms with the fact that they are suffering from hearing loss, they also often suffer from post traumatic stress disorder. A private audiologist will often not understand the link between PTSD episodes and sound, for instance. This is why it is so important that veterans are referred back to the Veterans Association, where they can get the help they need and deserve.

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