By Pallavi Bharadwaj
“I served for a total of 11 years in the Army and Air Force. I have tinnitus in both ears, especially the left. It was horrible at first. The hearing problems are a direct result of gunfire and loud jet engines while on flight line duty. I left the service because of my hearing problems. I was afraid to ever fire a gun again or to be in a situation where I would be exposed to small arms fire or explosions that would make the ringing worse,” says Nathan Heltzel, who now lives with hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing) in both ears.
Can you imagine returning home after serving in the military for your country without your hearing and with constant ringing in your ears?
Tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) are the number one and two war wounds among veterans returning home. In the past decade, over one million service members have been impacted by tinnitus, hearing loss, and/or other auditory disorders.
To provide support to the community of veterans with hearing problems, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) launched a veterans’ resource center on our website. This section is designed to help veterans cope with hearing loss and tinnitus. Resources such as research updates on new treatment options, stories from veterans who have been affected, and topical features from Hearing Health magazine can be accessed here.
Most importantly, we would like to share with our service members the exciting prospect of a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus through our Hearing Restoration Project (HRP). The HRP is working to translate the ability in chickens to restore hearing for humans in order to deliver a cure for veterans, like Heltzel, and for all those suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus.
If you are a veteran, current service member, or have family or friends who have bravely served our country, review these resources about hearing loss and tinnitus.