By Dr. Stacie Pilgrim, Director of Clinical Research
As we honor our country’s veterans this November, we feel it’s important to recognize how many military veterans are affected by hearing loss. Routine exposure to loud noise in active combat, as well as simply working on a flight line, ship or with explosives can deteriorate a military servicemember’s hearing. Hearing loss is the most prevalent injury that veterans have and has become more of a recognized problem over the years.
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 15,000 veterans were seen for hearing loss in the years 1945 to 1947; 45,000 by 1949 and 71,000 veterans were identified with hearing loss by 1957. More than 59,000 military members experienced hearing loss from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The VA hearing aids program was established in the late 1950s and led the charge in the development of treatment options, evaluation and technology. The VA fits 20% of the hearing aids in the U.S. and have the purchasing power to supply veterans with high end hearing devices from leading manufacturers at a significant discount.
At Newport-Mesa Audiology Balance & Ear Institute, we are fortunate to be partnered with one of the major hearing aid manufacturers who are contracted with the VA – Phonak. We have also been seeing many patients sent to us from the VA. In addition to the high-tech hearing devices that the VA provides veterans, they may also include additional accessories such as remote controls, TV streamers, Bluetooth cell phone connections, as well as batteries, wax guards, domes and other maintenance supplies.
If you are a military veteran, don’t hesitate to investigate any hearing benefits you may be eligible to receive. Find a VA location nearest you: Veterans Health Administration Locations.
Veterans, as well as civilians, should follow these guidelines to prevent further damage to their hearing:
- Minimize exposure to loud noises
- Wear hearing protection
- Avoid medications known for damaging hearing
- Protect the head to prevent injury in sports/activities
- Have regular hearing tests
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” – Benjamin Franklin
To all our veterans, we salute you!