A common image of a wounded Canadian soldier are older men missing arms and legs. Sometimes they have suffered burn wounds. Their bodies carry the scars of shrapnel and bullets, some easier to hide than others. Some use wheelchairs.
As Remembrance Day approaches it's important to understand that some wounds are visible, and others are hidden. Hidden wounds that veterans deal with include mental and emotional scars from combat, and noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). With wounds like these, you may never even know there is a problem unless the veteran chooses to talk about it.
It's not just a problem for Canadian veterans. A report in hearforver.org says more than 2/3 of British troops returning from Afghanistan suffer from severe NIHL. In a study released by the Deafness Research Foundation and the UK Ministry of Defence, nearly 69% of UK troops returning from Afghanistan had suffered hearing loss due to combat noise. Many combat troops complained of tinnitus, some of complete deafness.
Injuries due to noise-induced hearing loss is a common problem among veterans, and it's not a new issue. Canadian veterans had to fight for a long time to secure benefits for men and women who had suffered hearing loss in combat.
In cumberlandnewsnow.com, it was reported that more than $18 million was injected into the local area over the past two years after 474 people made successful claims through Veteran Affairs Canada for hearing loss compensation payouts. The one-time payments ranged from $800 on the low end, up to $134,000. The average payment in the area was $38,000. The report suggested “Cumberland County is the hearing loss capitol of Canada.”
Today, the Government of Canada is willing to help support veterans who have had to live with the impact of noise-induced hearing loss on their lives. Connect Hearing has at times even worked with veterans to help fill out the forms.
Before anything can be done, it's important to understand what the problems are. This is one reason why Connect Hearing Canada encourages veterans to visit a clinic for a free hearing test.
M.J. DeSousa, Connect Hearing’s Director of Professional Practice, says Remembrance Day is one of the most important days in the calendar for her because it is a reminder of the price that veterans paid for our freedom. In many cases, continue to pay long after the conflict is over.
“I have two things to say to all the men and women who have served and are serving in the Canadian Forces – especially those who have endured the burden of armed conflict – thank you,” says DeSousa. “The second thing is simply this – you fought for our country so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today. Now let others fight for you. If you are dealing with hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss, or even if you just think you do, come in and see our friendly technicians for a free hearing test. Let us work with you so that you can enjoy optimum hearing health. There are too many wonderful sounds in this world, and we don't want you to miss any of them.”