Veterans and Hearing Loss

Veterans and Hearing Loss

My Hearing Centers Hearing, Hearing Aids, Hearing Loss, Uncategorized

Statistics: Veterans with Hearing Loss

According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, “Veterans are more likely to suffer hearing loss because of their military experience, employment, socioeconomic status, lack of access to health care, and age than other groups in the population…Among veterans, the incidence of hearing loss is higher, often due to their military experience.”

In the US, approximately 20% of the population experiences some degree of hearing loss. Among veterans returning from combat zones, that rate rises to 60% of veterans. In fact, this high number is what led to the formation of audiology as a field in the years after World War II. Veterans returned home in great numbers with hearing loss, and at the time, there was no devoted study or treatment for veteran hearing loss.

Back in 1999, the VA estimated that 24.8 million veterans experienced hearing loss, and that hearing loss was the most common service-related disability among veterans. In recent years, with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with high rates of hearing loss, the VA continues its work to fund research and find treatments for veterans.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Combat

In combat, veterans are exposed to high levels of noise on a daily basis, in a variety of settings. Exposure to loud sounds leads to noise-induced hearing loss, one of the most common causes of hearing loss (along with presbycusis, age-related hearing loss).

According to studies, noise-induced hearing loss may occur when we are exposed to noises that are 85 decibels over a period of eight hours. As decibel levels rise, the time frame for hearing loss shortens. In combat zones, noises rise well beyond this decibel level, in shorter periods of time.

For example, a gunshot clocks between 140 to 190 decibels, depending on the weapon. This may cause immediate hearing damage. The firing mechanism of a gun produces 115 decibels on its own. A bomb or grenade clocks in at 190 decibels at the epicenter. Army aircrew are also exposed to high levels of sound in their positions, from the engine of vehicles to the loud volumes of communication devices worn in the ear. Air Force and Navy fighter air crafts may generate up to 150 decibels of noise, and even with ear protection, hearing is at risk.

When service men and women are exposed to these sounds on a daily basis in combat zones, we can see the extent of damage on one’s hearing.

Treating Hearing Loss for Veterans         

The Hearing Loss Association of America was founded by Howard Stone, a retired CIA agent. In 1979, after enduring hearing loss from his service in the United States Army, Stone established the HLAA to support veterans and people who experience hearing loss with resources and up-to-date research.

The HLAA, along with the Department of Veterans Affairs, focuses on resources, studies, and solutions to hearing loss among veterans. The National Technical Institute for the Deaf in Rochester has formed a collaboration to educate veterans on hearing loss (more information here:

Additionally, there are support groups around the country for veterans who experience hearing loss. To find a local chapter in your area, visit the HLAA here (

Live your life to the fullest! Call (877) 330-2920 to schedule an appointment at one of our locations today!