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When soldiers go to war, they often bring an unwanted souvenir home with them…a hearing loss. About Deafness/HOH interviewed a veteran, Doug Smith, who acquired a hearing loss:
Smith Loses Hearing
Q: What happened in the military to cause your hearing loss?
A: I was a navy diver..and submarine sailor…I crushed my eardrums. This happened in 1976. Quite a few submarine sailors have hearing damage due to the pressures we deal with.
Q: How much of a hearing loss did you sustain?
A: Over 50 percent in both ears.
Smith Returns Home
Q: What kind of help did you get (medically) from the military? Were you given any assistive devices like a hearing aid (circa 1976 of course)?
A: The military gave no real help. The military didn’t really do anything about my ears. I got no disability to speak of. My case was transferred to the VA (Veterans Administration, now the Department of Veterans Affairs). I went for a hearing test and the VA said yep, you’ve got significant hearing loss. Have a nice day.
Q: That was 1976. Are things better today? If a veteran acquires hearing loss today, can that veteran look forward to better treatment than you got in 1976?
A: I would say probably not. Most of the medical help comes from the Veterans Admin. Don’t get me wrong. The military hospitals and the VA hospitals are great places, but there is not a whole lot medically they could do to help me.
Smith Gets Discharged
Q: What impact, if any, did this hearing loss have on your military career?
A: After 14 years (in the military) I was medically discharged for the hearing loss as well as a seizure disorder.
Articles on Veterans and Hearing Loss
Doug Smith is just one of many veterans affected by hearing loss. In addition to Mr. Smith, in one of my early college classes I encountered a veteran who had been deafened in the military.
This impacts their daily life as well as getting or sustaining a job to support themselves and their family.
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