“The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.”
As hearing health begins to make headlines and the importance of healthy hearing is brought into the spotlight, many are now taking steps to prevent hearing loss. Research findings are inspiring many to schedule hearing evaluations and finally give hearing aids a try. Hearing protection is becoming more mainstream than ever.
But what about those who have always taken steps to protect their hearing in louder than average jobs who are now finding it may not have been enough? A recent lawsuit brings veterans hearing health and the need to do more to protect it to the forefront with claims that profit may have been more important than protection for one company.
Veterans and hearing loss
Members of the military work in some of the noisiest occupations and environments (often registering between 103 and 180 decibels), and it shows in the number of veterans reporting hearing loss. According to the Hearing Health Foundation:
- Tinnitus and hearing loss are the number one and two health conditions among military veterans.
- In 2017, there were 1.79 million disability compensation recipients for tinnitus and 1.16 million compensation recipients for hearing loss.
- Many veterans have a condition called auditory processing disorder which makes it difficult to understand speech.
- A study in 2015 found that 72% of Veterans with tinnitus also had a diagnosis of anxiety, 60% had depression, and 58% had both conditions.
- The VA buys one in five hearing aids sold annually in the U.S.
The numbers are startling, especially knowing that military personnel are required to use hearing protection on the job. This may have been why several veterans began to question the effectiveness of some of that hearing protection equipment.
Veterans vs. 3M
In February of 2019, Army veteran Kelby Rice filed a lawsuit against the company 3M. Rice and other veterans who have filed similar lawsuits in recent years claim the manufacturer of their standard-issue Duel-Ended Combat Arms Earplugs Version 2 (CAEV2) left them with hearing damage including tinnitus, vertigo, and even some permanent hearing loss because the product was defective. In this and previous lawsuits, veterans claimed that the company continued to sell the earplugs to the military knowing they were ineffective, putting profit before hearing protection.
These lawsuits have brought the importance of veterans’ hearing health into the spotlight, highlighting the need for further education on hearing health and hearing loss and stricter regulations for hearing protection devices. It is vital that service members and the work they do are honored with the hearing protection and ongoing support they need. This not only protects hearing health but helps them to do their jobs most effectively and prevents more serious health conditions down the road.
There is no substitute for prevention when it comes to hearing. Without the right protection, hearing can be permanently damaged over time. When you are in a noisy environment, make your hearing a priority by using protection such as ear plugs and specialized ear muffs. Regular hearing evaluations can help monitor your hearing and help you manage any hearing loss to help prevent further damage.
If you have questions about hearing loss or the best tools to protect your hearing, contact our office to learn more.