May is Better Hearing & Speech Month: I Took the Pledge, Will You?

Written on 5/14/13 by Chazz Pratt Going Civilian Community Manager | Army | Phoenix, AZ Celebrating birthdays, promotions, and other good news with Family and Friends means lots of food, fun, and fellowship. Eating is the easiest part – just choose what you want from the menu and go for it! Now comes the fun part – enjoying the lively and interesting personalities at the table and the wide array of stories, tall tales, and sense of humor that seems to go non-stop! But, as much as I enjoy all of this, the toughest part is the fellowship. Why, you ask? Because it’s tough to fully enjoy the fellowship when you suffer from hearing loss. I wear a hearing aid and struggle with Hearing Loss. "May is Better Hearing & Speech Month,” and the Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) will launch the "Pledge for Hearing Health" to encourage Americans to have their hearing tested. For me, it all started out from a medical condition called Tinnitus, which is a fancy medical term for “ringing in the ears”. I never served in a combat zone during my time in the military, but being surrounded by cannons, generators, Drill Sergeants (especially when I failed to make “sound” choices), and other things that go “boom” made an impact. Incidentally, my hearing loss is in the higher frequency range – which explains why I get in trouble with my “Household 6” when she thinks I’m ignoring her! But, enough about me, there’s a serious hearing loss Tsunami thundering near you! Did you know that 1.5 Million Veterans suffer from service-connected hearing impairment? Of these, 840,000 suffer from Tinnitus and 700,000 from hearing loss. All-in-all, 414,000 of these cases are from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, you heard me right! This information comes from the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence known as HCE. We should consider this an honest attempt to sound the alarms and amplify the seriousness of hearing loss. Here’s why. The “cha-ching” (financial costs) associated with Veteran Hearing Loss echo louder than a Drill Sergeant screaming at new Recruits on the first day of Basic Training! With a staggering $30,000 to individuals and a whopping $26,000,000,000 cost to society, this sounds like good reason to sound the alarm. Imagine the financial strain experienced by those who voice concerns about their ability to pay for their hearing loss treatment. That said, while most cost healthcare-related cost concerns get discussed loudly get discussed loudly these days, those paying the personal costs of Hearing Loss remain silent. The personal costs of hearing loss resonate with many in the form of; anxiety, depression, heart disease, impaired cognitive function, impaired academic achievement, impaired memory, and feelings of isolation. We cannot remain quiet on this important issue. If this is you, don’t continue to suffer in silence! With auditory injury rising 13 – 18% annually, swift action now can make an impact before we ring in the New Year! So here’s what I’d like you to do: Echo the Hearing Loss message to others today! How? You can take a moment to remind others that nearly 100% of hearing-related injuries are preventable. If you notice someone asking you to repeat things or otherwise missing what’s being said, pull them aside and ask if they’ve had their hearing checked recently. Also, you can direct people to the proper resources designed to prevent or treat those with hearing loss or tinnitus. One such website is Healthy Hearing There, you’ll find a ton of helpful resources and links to support better hearing health! Now, hear this! I want to leave you with some information that might sound surprising to you: Five Reasons to Have Your Hearing Checked: 1. Only 16% of physicians routinely screen for hearing loss. 2. 20% of preschoolers fail hearing screenings. 3. 72% of people attending senior centers fail the hearing screening. 4. Hearing loss can lead to depression and social isolation. 5. People with a mild hearing loss are twice as likely to develop dementia. I’d like to challenge you to take the pledge to echo the clarion call about Hearing Loss. Let’s “make some noise” and get the word out on the importance of preventing and treating Hearing Loss! I Took The Pledge, Will You?


I have high frequency hearing loss from years of weapons firing, and life aboard USCG and merchant marine vessels and port cargo operations, I faithfully wore hearing protection, but hours working along large engines and turbines took it's toll. As Weapons Dept head on a large CG cutter, I fired thousands of rounds of small arms, large caliber, and gun rounds (5"). I get my hearing checked every two years using my company's insurance. So far, the loss has stabilized. I keep wearing hearing protection and tell others to do the same.