Military Veterans with Hearing Loss Project
By Bonnie O'Leary
Editor: I think most of us are aware that many of our returning
veterans are suffering from hearing loss. The folks at NTID have
established a program to assist them, and they presented this great
workshop at the HLAA Convention.
This session was presented by Alan Hurwitz, President of NTID, along
with Allen Ford, Project Coordinator. This project was designed especially
for veterans who have suffered hearing loss as a result of their military
The Veterans with Hearing Loss program is a coordinated effort of the
Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and the National Technical
Institute for the Deaf (NTID). RIT has been designated a "Yellow Ribbon"
college, which allows veterans who have served since 9/11/01 to receive
additional financial assistance for tuition, as well as existing veterans'
benefits for housing and textbooks. The Military Veterans with Hearing
Loss Project plans to admit recent, honorably discharged veterans with
hearing loss who can earn bachelor or graduate-level degrees from NTID at
RIT with access services, such as real-time captioning and notetaking in
Demographics and Statistics
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, loss of hearing is a
common disability for veterans. More than 46,700 veterans from Operation
Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have reported permanent
hearing loss as a result of exposure to gunfire and explosions during
their tours of service. From overall post-9/11 conflict demographics, of
the 299,585 veterans in VA health care, the number one disability is
tinnitus, which affects 94,000 veterans. The number two disability is
hearing loss, which affects 78,000 veterans. Exposure to continuous sound
at more than 85 decibels or to 140 decibels for any length of time can
damage hearing. A rifle can produce 160 decibels of sound. On average, men
and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have served more combat time
than in any other US military conflict.
Sixty eight percent of our veterans are wounded in action by blasts or
by improvised explosive devices. Auditory and vestibular symptoms
associated with blast injuries include earache, tinnitus, dizziness and
vertigo, distorted hearing, auditory processing disorders, loudness
sensitivity, hyperacusis, aural fullness, and hearing impairment. Of the
72% of our service men and women who return to Iraq and Afghanistan, 35%
already have hearing loss, and some have had additional injuries.
This group of veterans is demographically different from previous
generations. They are younger, more disciplined, and are technologically
savvy. They reflect a wide range of tastes and preferences, and have
varying family dynamics, education and employment.
Benefits of the Military Veterans with Hearing Loss Project
For qualified veterans, RIT, through NTID, will provide educational
access services, including note-taking and C-Print(r) captioning services.
They will also provide audiology services which will include cochlear
implant mapping. NTID has 14 audiologists to work with the veterans who
have a 70dB loss or greater.
Counseling will be offered to matriculated veterans with hearing loss.
RIT and NTID will partner with local Veterans Center, VA Outpatient, VR &
E and other veteran-based organizations to complement services offered to
matriculated veterans. And they will offer cooperative work and placement
services to assist in securing employment. RIT and NTID are also
partnering with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA),
www.hlaa.org. HLAA will offer free membership to the veterans in the
The project hopes to enroll 10 veterans in 2010, the pilot year,
increasing each year until there are 50 veterans enrolled in 2014.
However, the project will take as many qualified applicants as want to
To learn more about Veterans with Hearing Loss, visit www.rit.edu/ntid/veterans
(c)2009 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of
Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;
www.nvrc.org. 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. You do
not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to