Military personnel are often exposed to high levels of noise during service, and as a result, veterans face severe hearing issues. Hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) are the two most common service-connected disabilities experienced by veterans. Nearly 60,000 soldiers who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom have experienced hearing loss.
Given what some people describe as a “hearing loss epidemic” in veterans, The International Hearing Society (IHS) reintroduced a federal bill that would allow the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to do more for veterans with hearing loss.
What Is Provided in the Hearing Healthcare Bill?
The Veterans’ Access to Hearing Health Act of 2015 (H.R. 353) provides a number of important benefits to veterans by allowing the VA to make hearing healthcare more accessible to them. Here are some key elements of the bill:
- It will allow the VA to hire hearing aid specialists and include them on the list of approved medical personnel that veterans can see for their hearing problems. Instead of being able to only see audiologists, veterans will have more choices. This will assist in responding to the growing demand for hearing aid services.
- It requires the VA to provide Congress with an annual report on how long veterans wait for hearing appointments, along with the rate of utilization of hearing aid specialists and audiologists. This will encourage the VA to exhaust all professional options to tackle the backlog of appointments to ensure improvements in the care of veterans.
- It will allow hearing aid specialists to perform evaluations, recommend hearing aids, and provide fittings, adjustments, and repairs to veterans’ hearing aids.
- It reduces the travel distance and wait times for veterans to get the hearing care they need, and it reduces the burden on VA audiologists.
If you’re a veteran whose hearing loss or tinnitus began or was aggravated during your service in the military, you may qualify for disability benefits from the VA. Contact us at 402-933-5405 to discuss your situation. We can help determine if you’re eligible for VA Disability benefits.