Hearing: A Silent Sacrifice Our Veterans Make<br />
 - Hearing and Speech Agency

Hearing: A Silent Sacrifice Our Veterans Make

On Veterans Day and every day, we honor the men and women who proudly serve our country. They’ve put their lives on the line, left loved ones for long periods of time and sacrificed it all to keep our country’s families safe and secure. But there is one thing our service men and women might not realize they are also sacrificing: their quality of hearing.

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears) and hearing loss are the top two war wounds among veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most common civilian cause of hearing loss is aging. But hearing loss can also be noise induced at any age, as a result of acoustic trauma. For veterans, acoustic trauma could mean explosives, firearms, radio communication or loud yelling to name a few examples.

Often, service members don’t realize they have suffered a hearing loss, until later in life, when they are in fact (and may have been for some time) experiencing significant difficulty. Additionally, testing that was done years ago was not as comprehensive as it is now, neglecting to test the frequencies at which noise-induced hearing loss occurs.

I’ve seen military veterans who are exposed to all different types of noise, and they might come home with little or no noticeable hearing loss. Then, as time passes, hearing difficulty increases; they may present with an age-related hearing loss, but at an earlier age than it would have, had there not been the noise exposure.

Herbert Rogers, Director of Security at HASA, and I recently sat down with Sheilah Kast, host of WYPR’s “On the Record,” to discuss hearing loss in veterans. Herbert has been with HASA for 26 years and served in the Air Force for 8 years, from 1960-1968.

When Herbert came home from his time overseas in Germany, he didn't notice a loss in his hearing ability. It was much later in life when he first came to the conclusion that a hearing evaluation was necessary. Click here to listen to his story.

Take a moment to think about the people in your life who have served our country. Given their exposure to high levels of noise, it may be a good idea to recommend they have their hearing evaluated by a professional, like the ones at HASA. Spreading awareness of this important health issue for service members is a tangible and effective way to thank those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for America.

Here’s to our veterans!

Julie Norin, AuD, CCC-A, ABA, FAAA is Director of Audiology  at The Hearing and Speech Agency. 

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