Veterans have many details and challenges to address as they reacclimate to life stateside. They must find housing and jobs, organize healthcare and attend to the details of recovery and rehabilitation from any injuries, illnesses, or conditions incurred while on active duty. One thing they should not have to struggle with is finding ways to cope with hearing loss suffered while serving our country.
According to The Hearing Loss Association of America, (HLAA), “More than 59,000 military members are on disability for hearing loss from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan).” According to the Hearing Health Foundation, “Tinnitus and hearing loss are the number one and two war wounds among veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan. In the past decade, over one million service members have been impacted by tinnitus, hearing loss, or other auditory disorders.”
HLAA is making sure that veterans have the support, education and information they need to cope with hearing loss. The Association has created a wide range of programs and services to support veterans that include the following:
Reduced rate or free telecommunications equipment and assistive listening systems. Information can be found in the association website (see References below).
Education: Live webinars help veterans to learn what they need to know about coping with hearing loss. The webinars feature experts from different areas of medicine who speak to the various medical causes of hearing loss and what can be done to address them. The webinars are interactive and veterans can ask questions during the sessions. Schedules can be found on the Association’s website (see References below).
The Association has partnered with the National Technical Institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute for Technology to increase educational opportunities for veterans of Iraq, Afghanistan and other recent conflicts. NTID/RIT has established the Veterans with Hearing Loss Project that will admit veterans to the school and, together with the Veterans Administration, will cover any financial gaps between GI Bill benefits and the cost of tuition.
Connection with a community: The HLAA is offering free memberships and free convention registration to veterans. Both offer news and information on the latest hearing technologies, digital and print magazines, updates on legislation impacting the hearing impaired and more.
These offerings illustrate what can be done when associations and institutions in a position of power act to make a difference. It is unquestionable that our veterans deserve support. Providing them with the opportunity to treat, and learn to live with, hearing loss, tinnitus and other injuries incurred during active duty is a great step forward.