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Heard on  Morning Edition


Since 2014, the U.S. Army has gradually been deploying the latest version of a hearing protection system that protects users from loud noises while still letting them hear the world around them.

The system is called TCAPS — Tactical Communication and Protective System — and about 20,000 of the new TCAPS devices have been deployed in the field so far.

Hearing loss is a big problem in the military. According to Defense Department statistics, more than half of all troops returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from some sort of damage to their hearing.

Read more  . .   Smart Earplug



Do you have a hearing loss due to military service? A report from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that more than 59,000 military members are on disability for hearing loss from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

HLAA was founded in 1979 by Howard “Rocky” Stone, a retired CIA agent, who endured hearing loss from his service in the United States Army. Rocky was well-known in the agency for both his skill and his hearing loss. On one occasion he was having a hard time “hearing” when talking with then-Director Richard Helms, so Rocky plopped himself on Helms’ desk and asked him to face him directly so he could read his lips! Another time, his old-fashioned body hearing aid was mistaken for a recording spy device and was confiscated. Rocky earned the Agency’s highest honor and went onto establish an organization for people who have hearing loss and want to stay in the hearing world with technology and strategies.

Learn more on the HLAA website



 April 12

I don’t remember the moment the bomb went off, but I do know that when I landed, stunned, at the bottom of the gun turret of my vehicle, blood was leaking from my ears. I was quickly evacuated to Bagram Air Force Base, where I saw an audiologist. I could barely hear a word he said, so he showed me a drawing of my eardrums. Only hanging shreds remained.

For weeks people would have to shout at me to even get me to notice them, and I was now stuck with the supremely tedious duty of mixing and pouring concrete into the fortified command post we would eventually abandon. Nothing is worse than watching your platoon roll out on patrol without you.

It was assumed that I would be permanently deaf.

Read more . . . cost of war



FORT JACKSON, SC (WACH)-The ear-splitting pops coming from a rifle can be the reason why Fort Jackson drill sergeant trainees hearing, will fade away with time.

"Hearing loss and ringing in the ears are two of the most frequently reported disabilities in the VA system", said R.N. Elizabeth Bullock.

"It feels like someone just slapped you inside of your ear and there's a very loud ring", said drill sergeant trainee Denise Rangel."I can't imagine having in type of hearing loss. There's soldiers around here that if you aren't talking to them in the right ear they can't hear what you're saying."

Read more  . . . soldiers test drug



Greensboro News & Record
by Doug Clark
November 11, 2015

My neighbor, Garrett Whitley, sometimes talks about his role in the war when I visit him at the care facility where he’s spent the past few months.

He’s 88 and doesn’t walk so well anymore.

As a very young man, almost as young as some of his great-grandchildren, he served on the USS De Grasse in the Pacific.

The De Grasse was a cargo/troop transport ship that saw its share of action during the last 18 months of the war against Japan.

He gets very emotional when he recalls the horror of seeing a Japanese fighter plane diving into a nearby ship, killing dozens of sailors.

“That could have been us,” he says.

He’s also grateful President Harry Truman gave the order to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, forcing Japan’s surrender. Otherwise, he would have been part of the invasion. Military planners thought such an operation could have cost a million American lives.

My conversations with Garrett are somewhat one-sided because he’s stone-deaf. Not that there’s much he needs to hear from me, but when I want to ask him a question, I have to write it down.

Read More . . . Military Service



KFOX - El Paso, Texas
Thursday, February 5, 2015

For decades, men and women have heard the call to serve their country and answered it with pride. Many, however, have come back with hearing loss as a result of their work in the military. According to the Veteran’s Administration, hearing loss and tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears) are the two most prevalent service-connected disabilities among all veterans.

The VA reports that 2,116,528 veterans received disability compensation for hearing loss in fiscal year 2013, an increase of more than 200,000 since 2012 and over 766,000 since 2009. It’s a problem that spans from generation to generation, from World War II veterans to Korean conflict, Vietnam era, Gulf War era, Iraq, Afghanistan and even peacetime veterans.

Although the issue is widespread, some veterans say they aren’t receiving the disability compensation they deserve, because they can’t prove that their hearing loss is a direct result of their service.

“I’ve tried to go to the VA several times, and they don’t acknowledge it, saying I don't have hearing loss,” Francisco Herrera said.

Herrera served as an active duty member of the Navy from 1983 to 1987 and then served in the reserves until 1999. He worked as a cook on the ship, with the boiler room situated below and the landing deck above.

“Every day, day in and day out, you have this noise constantly, and especially on aircraft carriers where you have aircraft taking off, sometimes going out 24/7,” Herrera said.

Herrera has been appealing to the VA for disability compensation since 2006 and has the piles of paperwork to prove it. In 2014, Herrera was approved to receive 10 percent disability compensation for tinnitus. He is still in the appeals process for compensation due to hearing loss.

According to hearing specialist Rebecca Hernandez, who works with many military veterans from Fort Bliss, Francisco is not alone.

“What is happening now that we are seeing is that they're being recognized as having a hearing loss but it's not being service-connected so they're not getting benefits from the VA or active duty,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez worked with 232 military veterans who have hearing loss in just a three month span last year. She notes that unlike other service related injuries where an exact incident can be pointed out, hearing loss happens over time.

“Because deaf and hard of hearing is an invisible disability they don't understand it,” Hernandez said.

U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke has been a longtime supporter of veterans, even dedicating part of his staff to solely dealing with the issue.

Read More  . . . Sacrifice to Silence (Video No Captions)

Advocacy Alert -

Come to the Rally To Celebrate Legislation Supporting a Department of Defense Demonstration Program For the Accession to Active Duty of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Individuals

September 12, 2014 Friday
9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Assembling at Lafayette Park at the northern lawn of the White House

Directions and Route of Rally

Rally Information




People otherwise fit for duty would be given chance

AirForce Times
Aug. 2, 2014
By Kristin Davis  - Staff writer
Article Source

A lawmaker who advocates for the deaf is calling for a trial program that would allow a small number of hearing impaired to serve in the Air Force.

Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., introduced in the House on Wednesday legislation that would give 15 to 20 people who are deaf or hard of hearing but otherwise fit for military duty the chance to serve their country.

The Defense Department excludes from service those who are deaf, use a hearing aid or have a cochlear implant. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a DoD spokesman, said that is for good reason.

“In all areas of military life, but especially in combat, an individual's life and the lives of his or her comrades may depend on what individuals can hear. Situations could occur where hearing impairment would not only result in injury or loss of life, but could jeopardize a unit's mission,” he said in an email. “Individuals who are physically disqualified for military duty can and do become civilian members of the team. The work they perform for the Department and our country is valuable and rewarding but without the rigors of military duty.”

The proposed legislation is a companion to a bill introduced in the Senate in December by Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who has noted the military allows service members who acquire a disability while serving their country to remain on active duty.

Read more  . . .