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Veterans and Hearing Loss

we won the war but I lost my hearing


Updated September 10, 2010

Hearing Loss Worsens

When my hearing kept getting worse after a couple years out of the service I went to the VA, and filled out a ton of paper work. It took three months to get my first appointment, then another six weeks until I could schedule an audiogram. After the audiogram it took six months to hear back from them to set an appointment with an ear doctor. The earliest appointment I could make was in three months. I waited six hours. I saw the doctor and he went over my test with me and said I had possible "sensorineural damage" with, judging by my complaint, possible "tinnitus" or "cochlear" damage.

No Help Given

He asked "what would I expect them to do for me?".

I said maybe I could get some hearing aids or something? He said they don't do that and sent me on my way.

Vietnam Veteran

I was discharged from the USMC in 1969. I had served 8 months in Vietnam with a rifle company. I am a 40 percent disabled veteran due to shrapnel wounds from a mine blast that wounded me in 1968. My discharge fron the service was eight months after the injury. In the 70's I had my hearing tested by the company I worked for. The test showed I had high pitch hearing loss.

At that time I didn't think it was a problem. My hearing gradually got worse. I went to a civilian doctor and had my ears tested. The result was I have a 60 percent hearing loss in both ears. The doctor also advised me that I have severe scar tissue and nerve damage in both ears.

The VA did the same exam with the same results, and supplied me with hearing aids for both ears. Because nothing referencing a hearing problem is in my service records, the VA is taking the stand that it is not service related, even though their own doctors feel that it is. Has anyone else encountered this problem? How was it resoulved? Does anyone have a suggestion, other than forget it?

Another Vietnam Veteran

I am hearing impaired due to military service. My hearing loss came from weapons firing in Vietnam. I did get a 10 percent disability from the VA but it took 18 years, and finally got hearing aids through the VA after 20 years of arguing with them.

I have heard that the Mickey Mouse type ears that the military used for wearing on the flight decks and flight lines, were of little use. I am referring to the period prior to 1983, when hearing conservation laws came into being. I remember them as looking like ear muffs and having a tension strap going over the top of your head. These were not issued to everyone.

Recent Retiree

I just retired a few months ago with 20 years in the army. During that time, I was infantry (airborne) and armor (M1 tank series). In my initial infantry days I was an M60 gunner (try firing thousands of 7.62 mm that go off about 6 inches from your head in a matter of minutes) and I can recall losing my hearing for up to 5 days even though I wore ear protection.

My chain of command was aware of it at the time but did nothing. Subsequently, I thought nothing of it. I was also a grenadier,and rifleman... basically using all weapons our infantry has available.

I lost count of the times my hearing went bad or was temporarily lost when firing. I became increasingly alarmed and made the best of available hearing protection. But in some situations hearing protection is not an option - an example is a patrol - when you need your ears keen - then suddenly are in action.

Tanks have their own brand of BOOM BOOM and the turbine engine and more. Recently, in my last physical before parting service, they documented substantial hearing loss but did nothing more. I am seeing the VA now about it. I figure that I have nothing to lose.

Combat arms in the military is certainly detrimental to one's hearing (among other things). I have no animosity to the military. But I can say that no hearing protection is going to stave off hearing dangers in the military. My father is a WW2 who lost hearing in one ear because of an explosion (artillery). It's part of the job.

World War II Veteran

Was in WW2 and received a hearing defect in the higher decibels due to gunfire. The battleship New Mexico fired a broadside over our ship one night and the entire crew was deafened for several weeks. During the same battle I received another dose of noise from a 50 cal. machinegun.

Eventually the hearing came back to some extent but in 1950 an audio doctor checked me out and verified my loss. I was told it would gradually get worse which it has. I was told the name of this type of loss that related to loud noise like cannon fire but have since forgot.

VA Provides More Hearing Aids

An About visitor wrote to let me know that "A while back (circa 2000?) the VA started offering hearing aides to more veterans that are in their system."

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