Hearing Loss #1 Injury Among Returning Warriors

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the most prevalent injury in returning veterans.

After more than a decade of engaging in armed conflicts in the middle east, the number of injured veterans residing in the United States is high. There has been lots of discussion lately about the prevalence of PTSD, brain trauma, and debilitating injuries, but the most common war injury among current veterans is hearing loss.

ABC news reported on the subject. 

According the Department of Veterans Affairs, the most prevalent service-connected disabilities for veterans receiving federal compensation in 2011 were tinnitus and hearing loss, respectively, followed by PTSD.

"I suspect today’s generation of veterans – those who have been in a combat environment – probably have a higher severity of hearing loss (than past generations), especially with the explosions and the IEDs and the ruptured ear drums they’ve sustained,” said Brett Buchanan, a VA-accredited claims agent with Allsup, a national provider of services with disabilities.

In an age when not only our weapons are louder, but so are our military environments. Said Buchanan,

In the Navy, where most sailors work only below deck, there is " the constant drumming of the engines and metal-on-metal noise.” And in the Army and Marines, many personnel spend hours inside “military vehicles that are not quiet,” including tanks and personnel carriers. In addition, service members typically devote time to practicing at firing ranges.

“In those cases, hearing protection negates the loud noise to a large degree. But when you’re in these environments for years upon years, that negation you do with hearing protection may not be enough to prevent injury long term,” Buchanan said.

Though the VA compensates veterans with severe injuries each month, many veterans who have suffered hearing loss are ineligible for disability. Tinnitus begins at a 10% disability, though there's no way of gauging the severity of tinnitus. Hearing loss, though common to military members, is still a problem that remains largely unaddressed by the VA.

 

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