Military service members are in a unique position that leads to hearing loss and internal ear damage in ways that may not be taken care of immediately. Although many jobs have hearing damage and the military is certainly not without hearing conservation, the nature of conflict and unconventional working conditions can lead to a veteran leaving the military without a path forward for healing. If you suspect that your hearing has gotten worse because of military service, or want to be sure of your health, here are a few ways that an audiology team and Veterans Affairs officials can help:
Are Your Hearing Problems Service-Connected?
Many people enter the military with a recruiting myth--sometimes an outright lie from recruiters--that they're guaranteed medical care for life after the military. The real medical opportunities are a lot more complicated, and understanding your path to health care can help you save a lot of money while maintaining great healthcare.
Veteran medical care covers a very basic set services at Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers. This comes with long wait times in many cases, and although the Veteran Access to Care Act and related policies have expanded those medical benefits for most veterans, they're not ideal.
Your goal should be to link hearing problems to military service. There are many hearing risks in the military, and they're not all directly related to your job code/MOS/NEC. If you have any documented situations that show a hearing risk, you should be filing a claim for hearing loss with the VA.
Get An Audiologist To Help Your Claim
The VA will perform testing at their hospitals in order to verify your claim, but you shouldn't wait on the VA's appointment or rely on their own evidence. The decision is the difference between medical coverage for hearing-related conditions (with potential monetary compensation) and having to pay for your hearing recovery on your own.
Veterans Affairs disability funding is available for people who need it, and you're not taking it away from other veterans in need. Funding goes untouched from the compensation side of the VA financial system, and if embezzlement or contracting fraud can be paid out, your hearing issues aren't even a drop of sand in the desert of costs.
Aggressively pursue your claim and appeal success, and visit an audiologist outside of the VA system to get your own evidence. Explain your situation, bring your medical record, and talk about different situations that you think could have lead to hearing damage. Not all hearing damage is a flat loss of hearing capacity; your particular damage could make certain sound ranges or tones inaudible or irritating.
Contact an audiologist to get the proof you need, and be sure to bring them in as your referral care provider when your claim is approved. You don't have to stick with the VA system after approval, and the VA will pay for outside care for service-connected conditions.
Contact a medical office like Mark Montgomery MD FACS for more information and assistance.