The United States Department of Veterans Affairs was created to ensure that those who were in active duty have accurate resources to take care of any health issues caused by their active duty. This system dates all the way back to 1663 when the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony were at war with Pequot Native Americans. Throughout history, the nature of the department became much more sophisticated, and by World War I in 1917, it included insurance services, disability compensation and rehabilitation services.
In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to overhaul the VA into a 21st century organization that provided care, research and education for those who come back from war. The biggest changes made to the department included these initiatives:
According to the Hearing Loss Association of American and an estimate from the VA, more than 59,000 military members experienced hearing loss from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. As the most prevalent injury that veterans experience, it has become a growing complaint for veterans. However it is nothing new. As a matter of fact, the Veterans Health Initiative reported that the field of audiology was established during World War II to treat veterans who came home and were suffering from hearing loss. Between 1945 and 1947, 15,000 veterans were seen for hearing loss, 45,000 by 1949 and 71,000 veterans were identified to have hearing loss by 1957. The VA hearing aid program began in the late 1950s, making them a leader in the development of treatment options, evaluation and technologies.
In the 2001 fiscal year, VA audiologists treated more than 316,000 patients and issued a total of 241,458 hearing aids to those who needed them.
After deployment, veterans' healthcare needs and other concerns are handled by the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center (WRRISC). The clinical program focuses on environmental exposure assessment and medical evaluations to meet the needs of the individuals who served our country. This branch also provides extensive education for veterans, family members and other loved ones.
In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences recommended that there be a branch that helps veterans mange their health conditions, conduct research and apply proper care. By 2001, two centers were open, and by 2008 another center opened its doors to provide wider care. Currently, there is a service center in East Orange, N.J., Palo Alto, Calif., and Washington, D.C.
The WRIISC also conducts an extensive amount of research for veteran health. In order to improve the overall health and wellbeing of veterans, WRIISC clinicians and researchers work with reoccurring problems in returning veterans to meet theirs and others' needs.
The WRIISC environmental exposure assessment allows veterans to pose questions and concerns about their health that may be related to deployment. veterans taking advantage of this service can expect to learn about the latest research available about health effects and the link to environmental exposure. To receive these services you must meet these requirements:
The department works with a number of people who suffer from hearing loss from being in active duty. veterans who were in areas of combat, especially those who spent an extended amount of time in the force, will find that having trouble hearing is very common. According to the veterans Department website, nearly 10 percent of the disabilities for veterans are hearing difficulties.
Younger individuals who are going into combat now can protect themselves against future ailments by following these protective measures:
Minimize exposure to noisy environments: While it may not be possible for army personnel to determine their level of exposure to loud sounds, they can make sure to avoid it outside of the force.
Wearing hearing protection when around noise hazards: As much as possible, army members should make sure to provide a protective barrier for their ears.
Avoid medications that have effects on ear health: Some medications are known to cause hearing issues such as tinnitus. Before taking any prescription drugs, make sure to check with a doctor that these side effects are not common.
Wearing protective gear on the head to prevent trauma or injury: Covering up the ears and protecting the head against trauma can reduce the chances that debris would cause injury.
Having regular hearing check-ups: The ears are a very important and sensitive body organ, so they should be checked for damage on a regular basis, especially for those individuals who are in a military force.
Our hearing gets worse as we get older – it's just a fact. But veterans may have it a little worse than others because they are commonly exposed to loud sounds. Risk factors for hearing loss increase based on a number of things, including:
This content was last reviewed on: July 22nd, 2013