In July 2014, The Royal British Legion produced a report entitled ‘Lost Voices’ which looked at the hearing needs of the Armed Forces community.
The report didn’t seem to get the attention it should have in my opinion. Although as a former British Army Officer, I do accept that I have a bias to issues affecting veterans.
There were ten recommendations under the four headings: Compensation; Research; Peer to Peer support in hearing loss; and Tinnitus.
It is interesting that so often in our society the first answer to a problem someone is living with is to offer money because there has been ‘fault’ or that a person has ‘suffered’. I wonder if those who are being compensated could be asked whether they might prefer their compensation to be put into a specific research fund for more treatments?
However, there are 2 important recommendations for me in the ‘Lost Voices’.
The first is research – tinnitus is a poor relation in research focus and yet affects 10% of the adult population. A study in 2011 showed that 34% of US veterans returning from Afghanistan suffered from tinnitus.
The second is a proposal that veterans should have “special treatment” and “The most appropriate hearing aids for veterans that will minimise stigma.”
Stigma won’t be removed by an ‘appropriate hearing aid’. It may be removed by more people talking about their hearing loss, accepting it, and wearing aids as soon as they need them. Not when it is too late.
There was an additional £10m provided in the Chancellor’s Autumn statement of 2014 for The Royal British Legion to meet the hearing needs of veterans. Let’s hope it’s spent wisely.
An important part of my mission at The Tinnitus Clinic is to share our knowledge of tinnitus; its causes, how to prevent it and what to do if you are suffering from the condition. This blog will go some way in achieving this aim.