November 11th is an extremely important day for all of us at Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids, as well as Americans across the country and abroad. Veteran’s Day is a significant and special time for us to honor the brave men and women who have risked their lives and sacrificed so much to protect our country and our freedom.
The least we can do for all the heroes who have sacrificed so much for us, is to protect them upon return. One way to help protect veterans is to protect their hearing, both before and after deployment.
Consistently, the US Department of Veterans Affairs reports hearing loss and tinnitus as the number one and number two most common injuries of service members. Stephen Carlson, an army veteran who wrote an article on the issue for the Washington Post states, “If there is a single injury that afflicts military personnel more than any other, it would be hearing loss and tinnitus, a ringing in the ears”. According to a study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, about 16-24% of male Afghanistan war veterans suffer from hearing loss, and many never even think to get their hearing checked. When veterans come home with severe bodily injuries such as amputations or traumatic mental illnesses such as PTSD, it is easy for hearing loss to be overlooked.
Although easy to do so, veterans shouldn’t overlook hearing loss, because it has a huge impact on overall quality of life. Take retired Army Captain Mark Brogan for example. Although he has suffered spine and brain damage, as well as a nearly severed arm due to a suicide bomber in Iraq, he considers his hearing loss and tinnitus to be amongst his worst injuries.
Hearing protection for military service members is mandatory, and ranges from large headphones to noise-cancelling combat earplugs. The earplugs are meant to only block noises at high decibels – but this isn’t always the case. While these protections are high tech and compulsory, most soldiers don’t wear them. Many soldiers report opting out of wearing hearing protection because they block out minute and subtle sounds that could easily mean life or death for an active duty military member. This conundrum may be one of the reasons hearing loss has such a severe impact on our valued veterans.
If you are a veteran with hearing loss, you may be entitled to benefits including hearing screens and hearing aids. If you think you may have hearing loss, there are multiple ways to apply for benefits. To begin this process, veterans should apply for enrollment using an online form, by calling 1-877-222-8387 or visiting a VA healthcare facility or regional office. At the time of registration, applicants will need a copy of the Veteran’s DD214, driver’s license and health insurance (if available).
Heroes with Hearing Loss is also a great resource full of helpful links for veterans with hearing loss. The website exists to help veterans explore benefits or learn more valuable information on hearing impairment.
We know that dealing with Veteran’s Affairs can often be a stressful, traumatic, and time-consuming process. We understand that it may be easier to ignore your hearing loss rather than reaching out to the VA. We encourage you to take control of your quality of life by getting your hearing checked. Treating hearing loss with hearing aids can be a powerful tool for reconnecting with your loved ones, feeling less isolated in social situations, and better enjoying the softer sounds of life.
At Arizona Balance & Hearing Aids, we want to take a particular moment to honor and pay respect to all the heroes in the armed forces, whether deployed, at base, passed or safely home. Whatever your role in the military – we salute you. We thank you dearly for the extreme sacrifices you have made in order for us to live in a free and safe country. Men and women of the military, we send you our sincerest gratitude and appreciation, this Veteran’s Day and everyday.