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...

The British 'Limeys' Were Right: A Short History of Scurvy

Article
1/10/2022
Scurvy, a disease caused by lack of vitamin C, sickened sailors who had no access to fresh food supplies, and killed more than 2 million sailors between the 16th and 18th centuries alone.

How citrus fruits quelled the scourge of scurvy.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Nutritional Fitness | Military Medical History

Hearing Problems Decline

Photo
12/14/2021
Soldiers wear hearing protection while firing an M3 multi-role anti-armor antipersonnel weapon system during live-fire training at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Sept. 15, 2021.

Hearing loss in the Department of Defense continues to decrease for service members and civilians enrolled in hearing conservation programs.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Conditions and Treatments

Meet the First Coast Guard Sponsored USU Medical Student

Article
12/9/2021
US Coast Guard Ensign Bobczynski smiles at camera

U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduate Ensign Elyse Bobczynski is the first USCG-sponsored student to attend medical school at the Uniformed Services University.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Wounded Warriors and Caregivers Online Resources

Article
11/29/2021
Airmen race for a loose ball during an Air Force Wounded Warrior basketball game

The Defense Department programs listed here are staffed with nearly 800 recovery care coordinators and case managers who are standing by to respond to individual queries.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care

Mental Stress is like a ‘Check Engine Light’ Flashing–Don’t Ignore It

Article
11/29/2021
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David talks about his  journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program during a video conversation with Defense Health Agency Command Sgt. Major Michael Gragg.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jason David speaks about his own journey of recovery through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care | Warrior Care – A Virtual Show of Strength | Psychological Fitness

Army Recovery Care Coordinator Guides Veterans, Caregivers in Recovery

Article
11/12/2021

A warrior care coordinator shares how she supports recovering service members, their families and caregivers.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | IHD COVID-19 Vaccine Resource Center for Health Care Personnel | Immunization Healthcare

MHS Reaches 6 Million Doses of Vaccine Against COVID

Article
11/10/2021
Airmen of the 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, receive COVID-19 immunizations as a part of the federal mandate at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri, Oct. 2, 2021. The 139th Medical Group oversees the operation. .

Military passes 6 million mark for COVID-19 shots administered across the Military Health System.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors

Giving Back Helps Veteran Caregiver Connect with Military Caregivers

Article
11/10/2021
Veteran caregiver, Diane Hupko with U.S. Army veteran she cares for smile at camera

Giving back helps veteran caregiver connect with other military caregivers to build a community of support.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Are You Prepared for Flu Season? Let TRICARE Help.

Article
11/1/2021
A hospital corpsman administers an influenza vaccination to an airman as part of a seasonal shot exercise onboard Naval Air Station Sigonella.

Flu season is here once again. Are you prepared? With the COVID-19 Delta variant​ continuing to spread and our health care system overburdened, it’s important for all of us to help combat the spread of flu. And the best way to do so is to get a flu shot.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Total Force Fitness | TRICARE Changes and You

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 11 - November 2021

Report
11/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Update: Cold weather injuries, active and reserve components, U.S. Armed Forces, July 2016–June 2021; Brief report: The challenge of interpreting recurrent SARS-CoV-2 positive tests among military service members, Fort Jackson, SC, 2020–2021; Surveillance snapshot: History of COVID-19 vaccination among Air Force recruits arriving at basic training, 2 March–15 June 2021; Surveillance snapshot: Influenza immunization among U.S. Armed Forces health care workers, August 2016–April 2021

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

New MHS Podcast Explores Women’s Health in the Military

Article
10/27/2021

The new podcast series, Wise Health for Women Warriors, aims to help servicewomen overcome the specific health care obstacles they encounter.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Practice makes perfect: Uniformed Services University students learn combat casualty care

Article Around MHS
10/22/2021
An instructor gives advice on how a team of medical school students at the Uniformed Services University should work on their simulated patient during the Advanced Combat Medical Experience. 

The Advanced Combat Medical Experience (ACME), a four-day medical field practicum at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), is intense

Recommended Content:

Combat Support

WICC Podcast

Photo
10/18/2021

Today’s female service member population is now at 17%.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Warrior Care | Total Force Fitness

Expeditionary Medical Force Brings Optimal Readiness in Pacific Region

Article Around MHS
10/18/2021
A male soldier talks about a chart to to a female sailor.

The 121st Field Hospital of the 549th Hospital Center recently introduced an innovative way to increase medical Soldiers’ proficiency and competency by enhancing access to the field hospital equipment.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support

Hearing Connects Us to the World; Protecting Your Hearing Matters

Article
10/5/2021

Hearing Center of Excellence duo talks about the importance of hearing health and protection both on and off duty.

Recommended Content:

Hearing Center of Excellence | Prevention | Education
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 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.