Veterans and Hearing Loss


By Debbie Gregory.

Hearing loss affects more than 28 million Americans, including more than half of those over age 75. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), hearing problems are by far the most prevalent service-connected disability among American Veterans.

The most likely reason that veterans have higher rates of hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing, buzzing, or other type of noise that originates in the head) than the general public is due to the noise levels encountered while in the military.

Many veterans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been exposed to blasts during their service. A blast can compromise not only the ear itself, but also the connection between the ear and the brain.

Additionally, sensory problems are common among veterans who have had traumatic brain injury.

Last year alone, more than 293,000 veterans were awarded service-connected disability for tinnitus and hearing loss.  In total, more than 2.7 million Veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

The only percentage rating available for tinnitus is a maximum of 10%, regardless of whether you have ringing in one ear or in both ears.  But if you also have hearing loss, you are entitled to one rating for hearing loss and another for tinnitus.

The VA provides comprehensive hearing health care services to veterans as part of their medical benefits, with direct access to audiology clinics for evaluation and treatment of hearing loss. Hearing health services includes ever aspect from prevention to diagnostics to treatment.

VA researchers, engineers, and clinicians are looking for ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat hearing loss. They are also addressing a wide range of technological, medical, rehabilitative, and social issues associated with tinnitus and blast exposure.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Paid Sick Days for Federally Employed Vets?

Bill for Paid sick days

Newly proposed legislation will make it possible for wounded Veterans, newly hired by the federal governmentto start their jobs with multiple weeks of paid sick leave.

On January 13, 2015, Massachusetts Representative Stephen Lynch introduced H.R. 313. The bill would amend Title 5, United States Code, providing paid leave to any new federal employee who is a servicedisabled Veteran, rated at a minimum of 30% disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The measure, if passed, would give service-disabled Veterans 104 hours of paid sick time after they enter the federal workforce. New federal employees who are not service-disabled Veterans begin their federal careers with zero hours of sick time, and accrue hours over time. The bill would also allow the Veterans to carry over any of the 104 hours they do not use in a given year.

“It is unacceptable that our wounded warrior federal employees, who are just starting out in the federal workforce, are often faced with the difficult choice of having to take unpaid leave to attend their VA appointments or miss their medical visits,” said Rep. Lynch.

Along with Lynch, six additional members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors: Representatives G.K. Butterfield (NC), Gerry Connolly (VA), Elijah Cummings (MD), Blake Farenthold (TX), Walter Jones (NC), and Delegate Eleanor Norton (DC).

“These men and women have made incredible sacrifices to defend our freedom and have been wounded as a result,” Rep. Jones said in a statement. “They deserve an adequate amount of time to tend to their wounds while beginning a new chapter in their careers after they leave the military.”

The proposed legislation has also been backed by the Federal Managers Association. Representative from the group have admitted to seeing first-hand the struggle that service-disabled Veterans have when trying to juggle the job with their necessary medical appointments. Compounding the problem is the narrow scheduling windows at VA medical facilities. The group feels that supporting this bill is the right thing to do.

Senators Jon Tester (MT) and Jerry Moran (TX) also plan to introduce similar legislation in the Senate soon.

You can keep track of H.R. 313 and other Veteran legislation at or www.Govtrack.usYou are encouraged to contact your elected officials and let them know how you want them to vote on your behalf.

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Military Connection: Paid Sick Days for Federally Employed Vets? By Debbie Gregory