Approximately 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder. Communication disorders can compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational and recreational aspects of life. Hearing loss, loss of speech and other communication disorders can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of connection with family, friends and community.
Veterans have higher rates of hearing loss and tinnitus than the general public due to the occupational injury that can be incurred as a result of the noise levels encountered while in the service, including gunfire, aircraft, machinery and much more. Tinnitus and hearing loss are the top two service-connected disabilities among Veterans enrolled in VA for care. In 2016, more than 190,000 Veterans were awarded service-connection for tinnitus and more than 103,000 Veterans were awarded service-connection for hearing loss. In total, more than 2.7 million Veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss and/or tinnitus.
Although noise-induced hearing loss can be permanent, rehabilitative technology such as hearing aids can significantly improve users’ quality of life. Yet, only about one in four of those who could benefit from hearing aids have ever used them. This is why VA provides comprehensive hearing health care services to Veterans as part of their medical benefits and Veterans have direct access to audiology clinics for evaluation and treatment of hearing loss.
VA’s delivery of hearing health services includes:
- Access to a full continuum of hearing health care from prevention to diagnostics to treatment, continued follow up and maintenance