The Veterans Community Care Program at South Sound Audiology
Excluding age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, the most common cause for hearing loss in the military is ongoing noise exposure to gunfire, tanks, and blasts without wearing adequate hearing protection.
More than 3 million veterans are currently receiving compensation for hearing loss or tinnitus. Of those experiencing tinnitus, 72% have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder, 60% experience depression, and 58% struggle with both.
In addition, veterans who have experienced blast exposure may demonstrate normal hearing levels but have difficulty understanding speech, especially in environments with heavy background noise, known as central auditory processing disorder (CAPD).
Providing hearing care for those who have served our country is a priority at South Sound Audiology. We’re able to provide services like hearing tests, hearing aid fittings, hearing aid repair, tinnitus management, earwax removal, and more to veterans in the greater Olympia region through the Veterans Community Care Program.
What Causes Military Hearing Problems?
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL)
Exposure to extreme noise, noise very near to the ears, or ongoing exposure to lower noise levels damages the delicate hairs and cells in the inner ear that are housed inside the cochlea. These microscopic hair cells, or cilia, cannot repair themselves.
The measurement of noise levels is based on the amount of pressure it puts on the eardrum and is recorded in decibels (dB). Hearing damage occurs at noise levels at or above 85 dB for an extended period.
Typical noise exposure for military personnel includes:
- Ongoing low-level noise from cargo transports, helicopters, and tanks (88 dB to 115 dB)
- Mid-range noises, such as APCs, grenades, M-16s, machine guns, pistols, rifles, and anti-tank missile fire (120 dB to 166 dB)
- Extreme noise levels 180 dB and above, such as IED explosions, anti-tank guns, heavy artillery, and recoilless rifle fire
Traumatic Brain Injury
Traumatic brain injury (TBI), which comes from a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts normal brain function, can also lead to hearing damage. Even without blast damage, those exposed to blasts associated with improvised explosive devices (IEDs), landmines, mortars, bombs, or grenades may experience TBI and struggle with hearing loss, tinnitus, or both.
Jet Fuel Exposure
In addition to the noise levels produced by jets using jet propulsion fuel-8 (JP-8), the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that JP-8s interacting with noise leads to auditory processing dysfunction (APD) in the brain. Those experiencing APD demonstrate normal hearing, but dysfunction in the central auditory processing of their brains makes it difficult for them to decipher speech, especially in noisy environments.
What Audiological Services Are Available to Veterans?
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides veterans in their health system with medical services, including diagnostic audiology, treatment, counseling, hearing aids, and cochlear implants. The VA medical hospitals and clinics usually provide these services. However, when veterans cannot receive the care they need from VA clinics, private care is available through the Veterans Community Care Program.
The Veterans Community Care Program
South Sound Audiology is a community provider within the Veterans Community Care Program. The program, paid for by the Department of Veterans Affairs, allows veterans to receive care from our practice under the following conditions:
- The VA cannot see them in a timely manner (30 days+).
- Veterans reside more than 40 miles from the nearest VA medical facility.
- Veterans do not have transportation access to a VA center.
- The VA has granted prior authorization.
Once authorized, Sound Audiology provides the veteran with a comprehensive hearing evaluation, hearing device selection/programming, hearing aid repairs, troubleshooting, and other services, including tinnitus management and earwax removal.
Learn More about South Sound’s Veterans Community Care Program
Hearing loss and tinnitus are often lifelong consequences experienced by those who made the commitment to serve our nation. Because we are grateful for your sacrifice and want to give back, South Sound Audiology provides audiological service through the Veterans Community Care Program.
To learn more about how the program works, submit the form below. One of our team members will call you back and provide you with the information you need to participate in the Veterans Community Care Program with us.