By Debbie Gregory.
Even with the improvements that the VA is making in their claims processing and healthcare programs, some VA needs are not being met. While these needs have been deemed “not critical to the immediate survival” of Veterans, they are still necessary for the Veteran’s quality of life.
At the top of the list of non-critical, but absolutely necessary needs are hearing aids. Many Veterans, especially Veterans of WWII, Korea and Vietnam, wait six months or longer for appointments with VA audiologists. Some Veterans choose to pay out of pocket and go to private audiologists to get hearing aids in a matter of days. But most Veterans can’t afford to go that route; and no, a Veteran shouldn’t have to.
If these same Veterans complained of chest pain or breathing issues, they would be treated at the VA hospital within a matter of minutes. If a specialist was not available in a timely manner, other trained healthcare professionals would be allowed to tend to the Veteran in need. If such measures can be taken in more critical matters, why aren’t exceptions made in other necessary areas? Legislation is currently underway in the U.S. House of Representatives that could do just that.
House bill H.R. 3508 was introduced in November, 2013 by Rep. Sean Duffy from Wisconsin. The bill proposes an adjustment in the requirements for those who prescribe hearing aids to Veterans. Currently, only licensed audiologists can issue a hearing aid to VA patients. If passed, H.R. 3508 will require that hearing aid issuers have associates degrees from VA approved institutions, and complete apprenticeships from VA approved programs. The bill also calls for the VA to submit yearly reports to Congress on the timely distribution of hearing aids to Veterans. Recently, the bill moved to the House Veterans sub-committee.
Bill H.R. 3508 has the support of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the International Hearing Society, VetsFirst, Blinded Veterans Association, and American Veterans (AMVETS).
Along with doing everything in our power to connect Veterans to the resources, information and the benefits they deserve and are entitled to, MilitaryConnection.com also supports legislation that benefits Veterans in need. Contact your local congressional representative and tell them that you support H.R. 3508 and urge them to vote YES on your behalf. Click here to find out who your representative is.