Hearing Loss in the Military

Hearing Loss in the Military

As long as American soldiers fight on noisy battlefields, hearing-related injuries are sure to follow them home. Join NET Television for an in-depth look at what veterans, active service members and their families need to know. Find out about the effects of hearing loss and where you can go for help.

A report from the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that more than 59000 service members are on disability for hearing loss from Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn.

The first segment of the Hearing Loss in the Military broadcast will be direct training and education presented by Dr. Lybarger. Topics will include:

  • Hearing Damage & Combat Experiences
  • Hearing Damage & other Combat Related Injuries
  • Adapting to Multiple Disabilities
  • Family Members Coping with Combat Related Hearing Loss

The second segment will involve a panel of experts answering questions about hearing loss. The panel will consist of the Executive Director for the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a representative from the Veterans Administration, and Dr. Ron Lybarger.

In 2009, Dr. Ron Lybarger, a service connected disabled veteran himself, started Resiliency Resources

with the mission of providing mental health and rehabilitation related services to veterans and their family members. In addition to supporting veterans and their families with behavioral health issues, Dr. Lybarger is working to enhance services to veterans with hearing loss.

The Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and hard of Hearing (NCDHH) is a State agency providing education, referral information and technical devices to aid hearing and communication.

Amplified Phones*
Telephone amplifiers are devices used by people who are hard of hearing who have some residual hearing and use their voice. The amplifier makes sounds louder and clearer. There are several different ways a telephone can be amplified; a volume control in the handset, an in-line amplifier that is attached to the telephone and a phone that has built- in amplification. Public pay phones have a button to press or a sign explaining how to increase the volume.

Signalers are devices that allow people to be aware of typical audible warnings. These devices alert people who are deaf or hard of hearing to the telephone, a doorbell, a baby crying, fire/smoke alarms, timers, alarm clocks, pagers, etc. Two basic types of signalers are available. One is a flashing light signaler, which is probably the most commonly-used signaling system device, and the second device is a vibrating signaler.

Captioned Telephone (CapTel for short) is a relatively new technology that allows people to receive word-for-word captions of their telephone conversations. The CapTel consists of a customized, built-in display screen to show the captions properly together with highly sophisticated electronics and software to handle both voice and text content.

Video phone communications can be executed in a variety of ways. Initially, video phone calls were made solely via computers equipped with Webcams. Using an Internet connection, two callers can communicate visually through streaming video. The drawbacks of using computers and Internet connections is the screen size can be small and video quality can drop if one's Internet connection speed slows. There are many benefits to videophones. Those who use primarily use American Sign Language can communicate freely. Using a videophone, a person who is hard of hearing can use both auditory and visual information for better understanding of incoming communication.

Tinnitus Masker
Tinnitus maskers are commonly used by tinnitus sufferers when trying to sleep or relax, as it is within these quiet environments that the tinnitus is at its most noticeable. They commonly take the form of CD or MP3 recordings, or bedside noise generators. When used in conjunction with a sound pillow (which contains small embedded speakers) they can mask a person's tinnitus sounds without disturbing his/her partner. These masker devices use soothing natural sounds such as ocean surf, rainfall or synthetic sounds such as white noise, pink noise, brown noise to help the auditory system to become less sensitive to tinnitus, and promote relaxation by reducing the contrast between tinnitus sounds and background sound.

Hearing Aid
Hearing aids help transmit sounds to be understood by people who are hard of hearing. There are many different types of hearing aids with various functions. Telecoils (T-coils) and Direct Audio Input (DAI) allow different sound sources to be directly connected to hearing aids, which improves sound quality and allows the hearing aid wearer to easily perceive sounds and speech, regardless of background noise. They can be used with telephones, FM systems, induction loop systems and public address systems. Digital hearing aids can be adjusted for sound quality and response time to meet the needs of a user.


Cochlear Implant
Cochlear implants are electronic devices that are surgically implanted in a person's head to directly stimulate his or her auditory nerve. These devices are typically offered only to those with a severe to profound hearing loss who do not benefit from hearing aids.

*These items are available through the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, free of charge, to any Nebraskan with hearing loss. The Nebraska Specialized Telecommunication Equipment Program (NSTEP) provides financial assistance to obtain specialized telephone equipment. www.ncdhh.ne.gov/nstep.html

Hearing Loss in the Military was made possible by: Co-Producer and Major Funder: Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing also funded by: Hamilton Relay and Sertoma