- Published on 11 January 2019
Disability payouts are received by a million military veterans for hearing damage, and the US Navy is now carefully studying the full effects of this professional hazard and seeking greater protection.
Sea-war vessels such as aircraft carriers are 24-hour noise machines whose screaming aircraft, booming catapults, and roaring engines play havoc with the hearing health of personnel both above and below deck. To help understand, protect, and treat the inevitable hearing damage this creates, the Navy is running a new study in an Ohio lab some 3,400km from the nearest ocean, where on-board sound conditions are faithfully replicated for all kinds of scientific and medical testing.
The Environmental Health Effects Laboratory is the US Navy's biggest basic lab. Its director, Dr. Karen Mumy, explained recently to ABC's Cincinnati station, WCPO, that the centre's technicians and machines are now focused on ways to develop tools to help preserve service members' hearing. "We set up systems that generate exactly what would occur in the field and look for various health effects," she said.
“Our studies are meant to dig a little bit deeper into how the different types of noise and duration of noise exposure can contribute to hearing-related injury,” added Mumy.
According to stats from the Department of Veterans Affairs, 933,000 United States veterans receive hearing-loss-related disability compensation, and 1.3 million receive compensation for tinnitus. Other veterans, especially those frequently exposed to blasts, suffer from auditory processing disorder, affecting their ability to understand speech.
Veterans should go for testing and may qualify for service-connected disability, recommends the Department of Veterans Affairs.