Roughly 20% of Americans report some degree of hearing loss. That would be almost 65 million people who encounter some sort of hindrance to the way they live their daily lives.
Among American veterans, issues with hearing are the most common service-connected disability. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), estimates that over 2.7 million veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss or tinnitus. Today, we’re looking at hearing loss support for veterans, and what you need to know.
Why are Hearing Problems Such a Big Issue for Veterans
Analysis published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that after adjusting for age and current occupation, veterans are 30% more likely than nonveterans to have a severe hearing impairment. The analysis further outlined that veterans who served in the U.S. or overseas between September 2001 - March 2010 were “four times more likely than nonveterans to have a severe hearing impairment.”
Noise exposure is one of the primary causes for hearing problems in the military. Firearms, explosives, machinery, jet engines, combat operations or training can all be dangerously loud. These sounds can range anywhere from 140 dB up to 180dB and above. Sounds in excess of 120 dB can cause immediate damage to your hearing.
According to the VA, “at the close of fiscal year 2014, more than 933,000 Veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss, and nearly 1.3 million received compensation for tinnitus.” And these numbers are growing.
Hearing Loss Support for Veterans
Left untreated, hearing loss and tinnitus can have wide-reaching repercussions on your quality of life. Not only can it make communication more difficult, it can disrupt your sleep patterns, make it more difficult to concentrate, and put additional pressures on relationships with loved ones. Perhaps more worryingly, untreated hearing loss has also been linked to cognitive decline.
For the millions of American veterans struggling with a hearing impairment or tinnitus, there are support options available. If you are currently in active duty in the United States uniformed services, including those active in the National Guard and Reserve with federal pay, you may be eligible to receive benefits from the VA. These benefits may extend beyond active service, into your retirement or separation.Traditional or technical members of the National Guard and Reserve may also be eligible for some VA benefits.
VA medical clinics provide a full range of hearing services. These can include diagnostic testing and counseling, to hearing aids and implantable devices. A referral from your primary care doctor is no longer required to see a VA audiologist. Get started by registering at your local VA hospital or health center. You can also apply through the VA’s e-benefits site here.
To learn more about the VA benefits for service members, click here.
If you’re unsure if you have a hearing loss, our online hearing test will help determine if you need to see a hearing professional. If you’d like to discuss more about how treating a hearing loss can improve your quality of life, please get in touch with the team at Hearing Balance & Speech Center today. Call us on 1-800-HEAR-IT-1 or click here to request an appointment online.