BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Warfare is always dangerous, with lost lives, limbs, concussions, and brain damage. It’s also noisy.
“Tinnitus and hearing loss are the number one and number two service related injuries that veterans experience,” said audiologist Dr. Julie Norin.
Herbert Rogers did not see combat in his eight years in the Air Force, but he heard plenty of noise on an air base.
“Planes were in and out constantly, and I never realized that might have affected my hearing loss,” he said.
It’s not known how many service members have had their hearing damaged while carrying out their duties, but Rogers is one of almost 3 million veterans that the VA currently provides disability benefits for hearing loss.
“Hearing loss is, I think, like an unspoken thing. That’s the last thing I think we think of,” Rogers added.
Rogers sought help at the Hearing and Speech Agency, where he’s worked security for decades.
“Within the inner ear, there are tiny little hair cells that are very fragile, and when there is excessive noise exposure, those hair cells are damaged or destroyed,” Dr. Norin said. “And hearing aids will often treat the hearing loss and tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears.”
They’ve made all the difference for Rogers.
“Oh, a major difference. Now I don’t have to say, ‘What did you say?’ Or slide closer to a co-worker to hear what she has to say. But now it’s much, much better,” Rogers said.