Skip main navigation

Military Health System

Clear Your Browser Cache

This website has recently undergone changes. Users finding unexpected concerns may care to clear their browser's cache to ensure a seamless experience.

DHA to welcome Hearing Center of Excellence to agency

Image of The roar of a howitzer. The piercing scream of a jet engine. These are just a couple of the deafening sounds service members have to deal with. It’s just the nature of the business for the military, and no wonder why noise-induced hearing loss can be so prevalent among service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Stephen D. Schester). The roar of a howitzer. The piercing scream of a jet engine. These are just a couple of the deafening sounds service members have to deal with. It’s just the nature of the business for the military, and no wonder why noise-induced hearing loss can be so prevalent among service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Stephen D. Schester)

The roar of a howitzer. The piercing scream of a jet engine. These are just a couple of the deafening sounds people have to deal with during battle. It’s just the nature of the business for the military, and no wonder why noise-induced hearing loss can be so prevalent among service members. It’s also why the Military Health System works with other federal agencies, colleges and universities and public and private entities to prevent and treat those types of injuries.

“Noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus, the ringing in the ears, are highly prevalent in the Department of Defense (DOD),” said Lynn Henselman, interim executive director of the Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE), a joint effort between the DOD and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). “Hearing is a critical sense, especially for our service members conducting their missions, to have situational awareness. When they don’t have good hearing, it can potentially affect their ability to do the mission.”

Henselman is a VA employee assigned to the DOD for this collaboration. The center comes under formal control of the Defense Health Agency Dec. 11, 2016. But the collaboration between the military and VA on hearing loss issues goes back decades before the 2009 law that created the HCE.

“There’s always been a great partnership between hearing health providers in the VA and DOD,” said Henselman. “So it made sense for us to have this platform with the center to accomplish several strategic initiatives to improve the hearing health of service members and veterans. These initiatives focus on the prevention, diagnosis, mitigation, treatment, rehabilitation and research of hearing loss and injuries to the auditory system and sense of balance functions of the ear.”

Most of the DOD’s primary focus, according to Henselman, has been on prevention of noise-induced hearing loss, even if the nature of warfare sometimes makes preventing it difficult. That’s where the military can draw on the experience the VA brings in treatment, including rehabilitation.

“People are in the VA because they already have the injuries, so we’re used to treating them,” said Henselman. “That’s why we’re educating the military health care providers about best practices in certain hearing loss treatments and approaches to managing tinnitus.”

The VA’s research arm has done extensive work in tinnitus assessment and management. The VA’s partnership with other research laboratories continues to update VA and military clinics about the best practices and latest equipment. 

Meanwhile, the VA is learning from the military how to help people prevent noise-induced hearing loss. Henselman pointed to the HCE’s Comprehensive Hearing Health Program, an approach using three basic concepts:

  1. Protection – promoting the proper use of the right kinds of protective equipment, such as earplugs and  earmuffs
  2. Education – teaching service members and veterans about the effects of noise and how important hearing protection is to this vital sense
  3. Monitoring – testing the hearing of service members in traditionally noisy jobs, as well as getting all service members checked annually or periodically (the Army and Marine Corps test all their members every year; the Navy and Air Force do it for those exposed as part of their jobs) to ensure a ready and fit-to-fight military

“Even though our veterans come into our clinics with hearing loss, it can get worse,” said Henselman. “Since they might work in industrial areas or shoot recreationally or attend loud events, such as a NASCAR race, our patients need to be able to know what to do to protect their hearing from hazardous noise levels.”

HCE is a small organization, only about three dozen people. That’s not a lot of hands to help the millions affected by some type of hearing loss. Henselman said they leverage their support from the military services, public health offices, Veterans Health Administration and civilian hearing health organizations. “They’re the ones to help guide us to fill any gaps in care.”

You also may be interested in...

Article
May 10, 2022

DHA Welcomes New Deputy Director

Defense Health Agency (DHA) Director Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, left, swears in Dr. Michael Malanoski as new DHA Deputy Director, in Falls Church, Virginia, May 9, 2022.

The Defense Health Agency welcomed Dr. Michael Malanoski as its new Deputy Director May 9. He joins the DHA from the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the headquarters command for Navy medicine, where he served as Executive Director since 2015.

Photo
May 10, 2022

New Deputy Director

Defense Health Agency (DHA) Director Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, left, swears in Dr. Michael Malanoski as new DHA Deputy Director, in Falls Church, Virginia, May 9, 2022.

Defense Health Agency (DHA) Director Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ron Place, left, swears in Dr. Michael Malanoski as new DHA Deputy Director, in Falls Church, Virginia, May 9, 2022.

Infographic
Apr 25, 2022

7 Ways to Protect Your Eyes and Ears

Vision Hearing Awareness 7ways Infographic

Be #SightandSoundReady Make protecting your eyes and ears a readiness priority by following these seven steps. If you have signs of hearing or vision loss, make an appointment with your local military hospital or clinic, or visit: https://www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/Vision/EyeExams/a; https://www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/IsItCovered ...

Article
Oct 1, 2021

Happy Birthday, DHA! Director Reflects on Eight Years of Progress

Military personnel posing for a picture

Oct. 1 marked the 8th anniversary of the founding of the Defense Health Agency, the U.S. military’s only medical combat support agency. Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place said the evolution, growth and success the agency has experienced since also comes with greater expectations, greater demand and ever-increasing responsibility going forward.

Skip subpage navigation
Refine your search
Last Updated: December 28, 2023
Follow us on Instagram Follow us on LinkedIn Follow us on Facebook Follow us on X Follow us on YouTube Sign up on GovDelivery