Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

New report finds military hearing health is improving

Military doctor inspecting patient's ear Audiologist Major Erin Artz performs a lighted ear inspection on Tech Sgt. Brittany Guynn before completing an occupational hearing screening at the hearing conservation lab at the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (Air Force photo by Capt. Nichole Griep)

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Hearing Center of Excellence

Hearing injury remains the most reported service-connected veteran disability, as documented by the Veterans Benefits Administration 2019 compensation report; however, noise-induced hearing loss is decreasing for active-duty service members, according to a recently released tri-service report.  

The Hearing Health Surveillance Data Review, Military Hearing Conservation – Calendar Year 2019 report reveals overall hearing health is improving for service members and civilians enrolled in hearing conservation programs.

Army Lt. Col. Martin Robinette, Army liaison for the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence, a division of the Defense Health Agency Research and Development Directorate, collaborated with the DoD Hearing Conservation Working Group to produce the report. Robinette explained how data shows hearing impaired service members fell from 18% in 2013 to 14% in 2019. Report findings also show the percentage of people entering the military with hearing loss improved from 13% in 2013 to 7% in 2019.

Reducing hearing loss is a focal point of the DoD’s policy to protect military personnel and noise-exposed civilians from hearing loss caused by occupational and operational noise exposure through a continuing, effective, and comprehensive hearing conservation program, as stated in the report. The policy also strives to reduce hazardous occupational and operational noise exposure to enhance mission readiness, communication, and safety.

“Each DoD component establishes, maintains, and evaluates the effectiveness of their hearing conservation programs,” explained Robinette, an audiologist. “There are unique differences in mission execution, service member requirements, and expected exposure to hazardous noise, so not all service members are monitored as part of a hearing conservation program.”

The report consolidated measures of effectiveness from all service components, and reviewed service level efforts to prevent hearing loss and improve hearing health of those enrolled in DoD hearing conservation programs. Report data was jointly developed by the hearing conservation working group and the United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine, Public Health and Preventive Medicine Department, Epidemiology Consult Service Division, and the Defense Health Agency Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch, Air Force Satellite at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

According to Dr. Theresa Schulz, an audiologist and the hearing center’s prevention branch chief, each of the military services has a public health organization responsible for its hearing loss prevention program. The Navy and Marine Corps public health services fall under the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, while the Army Hearing Program is under the Army Public Health Center and the Air Force Hearing Conservation Program falls under the public health branch of the Air Force Medical Readiness Agency.

“Due to significant noise exposures unique to warfighters, both the Army and Marine Corps have enrolled most of their personnel in the hearing conservation program,” said Schulz. 

Another component of hearing conservation is hearing readiness, explained Schulz, which is designed to ensure service members and noise-exposed civilians have the necessary hearing capability to perform their job-specific duties, and the appropriate and properly fitted hearing protection devices for their mission.

“The ongoing challenge is that we must protect service members’ hearing from hazardous noise damage without compromising their ability to hear and communicate in often complex and chaotic environments,” said Schulz.

Those enrolled in a hearing conservation program get annual hearing tests, hearing protection fittings, and hearing conservation education sessions, according to Schulz.  “These noise reduction efforts are important indicators for hearing readiness,” she said.

Schulz emphasized that close collaboration between military operational leadership and medical leadership is also important to help reduce noise hazards and prevent noise-induced hearing loss. 

“Hearing loss can have significant adverse effects on a service members’ mission readiness and ultimately their well-being,” said Schulz. “It’s encouraging to see the decline of hearing injury as a result of each service’s dedication to their hearing conservation and hearing readiness programs. I’m hopeful this trend will continue.”  

For more information about hearing health, visit the DHA’s webpage. Additional information can be found in the 2019 Hearing Health Surveillance Data Review Military Hearing Conservation –CY2019.

You also may be interested in...

Improving health outcomes, readiness is aim of new grant funding

Article
2/18/2021
Military health personnel wearing a mask giving a shot to a patient

DHA offers funding grants for high-value research that supports better care, better health, and increased readiness, with lower costs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

VCE examines low vision with detection and care

Article
2/18/2021
military health personnel wearing a mask and performing an eye exam

Dr. David Eliason, of the Vision Center of Excellence, says low vision awareness is about prevention, detection, and continuing treatment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Health Tools | Medical Research and Development | Vision Loss | Centers of Excellence | Vision and Hearing Loss Prevention

DOD initiatives address the sexual health of our military

Article
2/17/2021
Image of a bacterium

STIs are important to identify and treat because they can impact service members’ health and readiness, as well as their ability to perform their duties.

Recommended Content:

Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Health Readiness | Medical and Dental Preventive Care Fitness | Men's Health | Women's Health

WRNMMC’s participation in APOLLO program furthers cancer research

Article
2/4/2021
Two groups of vials on a table

The MCC serves as the preeminent cancer research and treatment facility within the Department of Defense.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 02 - February 2021

Report
2/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Malaria, U.S. Armed Forces, 2020; Historical perspective: The evolution of post-exposure prophylaxis for vivax malaria since the Korean War; Surveillance for vector-borne diseases among active and reserve component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2016–2020.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Weed Army Community Hospital staffers show off their skills

Article
1/29/2021
Medical personnel, wearing a mask, practicing skills on a dummy

Hospital staff continued to take COVID-19 precautions during the event to ensure a safe learning environment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Readiness Capabilities

RHC-Europe Soldiers compete for Army Best Medic title

Article
1/21/2021
Soldiers in the snow, pulling a sled of materials

Army Sgt. Metcalf and Spc. Galdamez prepare to compete in the 2021 Command Sgt. Maj. Jack L. Clark Jr. U.S. Army Best Medic Competition later in the month at Fort Gordon, Georgia.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Readiness Capabilities

NH Guantanamo Bay Lt. named as Subspecialty Officer of the Year

Article
1/14/2021
Navy Lt. Ara Gutierrez, Naval Readiness and Training Command Guantanamo Bay, was selected Navy Medicine’s Medical Technology Subspecialty Junior Officer of the Year for 2020.

Gutierrez said she was genuinely surprised and honored to represent medicine’s "hidden profession.”

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

MHS refractive surgery experts discuss warfighter readiness

Article
1/13/2021
Image of Mr. McCaffery looking at a monitor with an eye on it

Refractive surgery is any surgery that eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Vision Loss | Readiness Capabilities

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

DMRTI_EWSC Student Criteria

Fact Sheet
1/8/2021

A reference for potential EWSC students.

Recommended Content:

Emergency War Surgery Course (EWSC) | Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute | Combat Support

Hearing Protection Measures

Congressional Testimony
1/7/2021

H.R. 2500, HASC Report for FY 2020, 116-120, Pg. 102-103

Recommended Content:

Hearing and Balance Injuries

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 01 - January 2021

Report
1/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Attrition rates and incidence of mental health disorders in an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cohort, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD medication treatment in active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; Exertional rhabdomyolysis and sickle cell trait status in the U.S. Air Force, January 2009–December 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Health literacy focuses on empowering patients to engage in their care

Article
12/30/2020
Medical personnel, wearing a mask, inserting an IV into a patient

How patient-doctor communication improves the health care experience.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Barksdale AFB trains medics with Tactical Combat Casualty Care

Article
12/30/2020
Military personnel participating in training exercise, treat a dummy for injuries

Medics of the 2nd Medical Group are becoming a whole lot more lethal, in a good way.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Readiness Capabilities
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 42

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.