VA offers a full continuum of care for Veterans to choose from to meet their hearing needs


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Approximately 46 million Americans experience some form of communication disorder.  Communication disorders can compromise physical and emotional health and affect the social, educational, vocational and recreational aspects of life.  Hearing loss, loss of speech and other communication disorders can lead to feelings of isolation and a lack of connection with family, friends and community.

Veterans have higher rates of hearing loss and tinnitus than the general public due to the occupational injury that can be incurred as a result of the noise levels encountered while in the service, including gunfire, aircraft, machinery and much more. Tinnitus and hearing loss are the top two service-connected disabilities among Veterans enrolled in VA for care.  In 2016, more than 190,000 Veterans were awarded service-connection for tinnitus and more than 103,000 Veterans were awarded service-connection for hearing loss.  In total, more than 2.7 million Veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss and/or tinnitus.

Although noise-induced hearing loss can be permanent, rehabilitative technology such as hearing aids can significantly improve users’ quality of life.  Yet, only about one in four of those who could benefit from hearing aids have ever used them.  This is why VA provides comprehensive hearing health care services to Veterans as part of their medical benefits and Veterans have direct access to audiology clinics for evaluation and treatment of hearing loss.

VA’s delivery of hearing health services includes:

  • Access to a full continuum of hearing health care from prevention to diagnostics to treatment, continued follow up and maintenance
    • Screening, assessment, evaluation, treatment, and/or management of hearing loss, tinnitus and balance disorders
    • Fitting and programming of hearing aids, wireless accessories, and other assistive listening devices (e.g.,  TV and telephone amplifiers) and post-surgical rehabilitation for cochlear and other osseointegrated auditory implants
    • Hearing screening and prevention services; auditory rehabilitation services to optimize residual hearing
    • Progressive Tinnitus Management which includes education, sound therapy (including hearing aids) and interdisciplinary counseling
    • Vestibular Diagnostics and Rehabilitation
    • Audiology Compensation and Pension Exams
    • Utilizing an evidence base for delivery of best practices and services, supported by expertise at VA regional and national centers of excellence (e.g., Cochlear Implant centers, Research Centers)
    • Utilizing multiple contracts to provide high quality technology for digital hearing aids, wireless communication systems, assistive/alerting devices, cochlear implants to provide devices needed to meet communication needs of the Veteran (i.e., six hearing aid companies currently on national contract)
    • Widespread utilization of audiology telehealth for remote diagnostics, hearing aid fittings and maintenance, and both tinnitus and auditory rehabilitation education
    • Partnering with community providers to contract and offer hearing health care in a timely manner closer to home. VA also collects clinical outcomes for patients using hearing aids reported across multiple categories (e.g., Hearing Aid Use, Perceived Benefit, Satisfaction, Impact on Others, Activity Limitation, and Quality of Life).  Across all categories, reported clinical outcomes are consistently high for Veterans receiving hearing health services within VA, and exceed those reported for general norms.

    Image: Dr. Rachel McArdle is VA's national program director for Audiology & Speech.Dr. Rachel McArdle is VA’s national program director for Audiology & Speech.

Author

VAntagePoint Contributor

-- VAntage Point Contributors provide insight and perspective on a wide range of Veterans issues. If you'd like to contribute a story to VAntage Point, learn how you can submit a guest blog at http://www.blogs.va.gov/VAntage/how-to-submit-a-guest-post/

Comments

  1. Jim m.    

    VA has helped me so far on hearing aids. Everything approved so far. Waiting now. Reason for my comment I just ran across this article. So everything has been in motion for me.

  2. Tom Concannon    

    I really need to do this!

  3. Bill Schulz    

    Have had Tinnitus since being 4 years in an Engine room on 2 ships in the Navy Got out in 73. I always see these feel good stories, but have never had the VA do anything for me’ I have a Vietnam Service medal. have been told I am not eligible for VA since I first applied. Including 2 weeks ago from Walla Walla VA center.

    1. David svare    

      I was told I am not eligible for VA care because I make to much money. Not rich by any stretch of the imagination, so successful is a bad thing?

    2. Earl Petit    

      At least there are more people out there like me. I got out of the Army in 79 with a zero percent hearing loss in my left ear. Hearing loss but not enough to be compensated for. I went through the red tape for over 2 years writing numerous emails and visiting the VA office in Wenatchee. They told me I made to much money. Over 40k a year. I guess you are penalized for making a better life for yourself.

  4. WILLIAM BROOKS    

    I AM RATED AT 10% TINNITUS BUT TOLD I DON’T QUALIFY FOR HEARING AIDS.

    1. Mark Jennette    

      I don’t believe hearing aids help tinnitus, but laying off caffeine will. Caffeine makes the ringing louder.

  5. joseph g. weaver jr.    

    I just completed this field. I am a veteran who was asked to get an evaluation for cochlear hearing implants, but at my age and the way I feel no way, [redacted] was my audiologist but I now live 120 miles away. please help. I was seeing a [redacted] for PTSD, but the VA does not seem to recognize it as I have filled out numerous paperwork ,I do not believe they contacted the doctor regarding my condition. I am physically and emotionally very sick. My son of only 21 commited suicide last summer. I am grieving but have no intention of killing myself. I cannot seem to sit down and even watch a movie with my wife, because I can’t hear and just don’t feel like doing it..please help…[redacted]. I eagerly await some help. I had a rep but got tired of calling him for help in filling out complicated paperwork. I am not good on the computer either. I also am honorably discharged and served 2.5 years overseas. thank you…..Please, I am begging for help. I need new hearing Aids too.

    Editor’s note: Portions of this comment have been edited per VA’s social media policy.

    1. Megan Moloney    

      Mr. Weaver, I’ve sent your comment to VHA’s client services team and asked them to reach out to you.

    2. Greg Darst    

      Tinnitus and hearing loss is 2 separate things.

      1. Greg Darst    

        Previous post was not mentioned for this one, my sincere apologies sir…

  6. Danny L Crowe, Msg retired USA    

    I am currently being treated for hearing loss. Think that I am being give subpar hearing aids. My hearing aids do not last. Always something happening to them such as wrong fit, broken wires, and just stops working. Currently my hearing aid for left ear does not work. Makes me very disgusted and unhappy. The article is impressive. The results are not.

  7. Stan B.    

    The VA has determined within the past 2 years that I have a significant hearing loss yet have refused to provide me with either a disability rating for such loss or a hearing aid. I served in the Army (Armor) in Vietnam where I know I had a variety of “noise” exposures that has contributed to my hearing loss and tinnitus. Their position is that I had a hearing test a few years following my Vietnam service while in the Reserves, yet cannot produce documents to prove that the test occurred (it did not…paper test by someone in an administrative role). I think it is great that they are willing to provide such support for so many, apparently I am not one of those fortunate ones.

  8. JIMMY FRANKLIN JOHNSON    

    I just got my hearing aids and I am once again able to hear things I could not hear THANKS TO THE AUDIOLOGY STAFF at Biloxi vet`s health facility.Thank you and God Bless.you.

  9. Paul A Greaves    

    I get disability for hearing loss, can I also get a separate claim for tinnitus?

    1. Mark Williams    

      Yes you can. Service connection for hearing loss and tinnitus are 2 separate conditions, however current 10% rating is max for tinnitus. I’ve been getting both for about 10 years. Audiologist would need to know MOS in service, type of noise exposure and type of exposure after military service. Good luck.

  10. Scott A. Gaston    

    That’s a good trick! I spend 30 minutes replying about my previous Unprofessional experiences and difficulties with getting my hearing aid (which I have never received though built for me in and supposed to have been given me in 2004 until they were told I was leaving for Bagram Afghanistan. They said it was too harsh an environment and I would get it when I returned). Not so! the little self important girl refused to see me because my ear wasn’t clean enough. I was told to get my ear cleaned out and then she would grace me with her presence! Amazing, she works at the VA with Lincoln’s Promise and I was loosing my 4th eardrum and being grounded from Combat Aircrew, KC-135 A & R Models about the time she was in diapers. I can’t even take a shower without a cotton ball in my ear or it gets a hell Ashish Infection as it will never heal. I was 50% Disabled then additionally with constant Tinnitus. I’m 160+% Total and Permanent Disabled now after my 10th Heart Intervention and Left Ventricle Dysfunction. I have quite a number of illnesses the VA doesn’t count in my rating that end terminally and I will never go back to that clinic! In fact, MUSC in Charleston has been consulted and I may go through surgery and hearing aid implants. Now, drop all this writing so I have to rewrite or give up!

  11. Robert Louis    

    Must the hearing loss be proven service-connected in order for the veteran to receive hearing aids from the VA?

  12. Dallas Brown    

    The VA in Nashville Th, supply me with my hearing aids, also a ear nose and throat NP clean the inside of my ears. I am permanent and total disabled and I receive all my care from the VA and I am 100 percent satisfied.

  13. Valentin Torrella    

    I tried to obtain audiology help in Anchorage but was denied because “my service record did not show indication of hearing loss in previous hearing tests”. I appealed and was again denied.
    Thank goodness for my civilian employer’s health insurance program I have coverage for hearing aids, although I have to pay for the hearing insurance part.

  14. Kevin Martin    

    Ohio’s Chilicothe VA has some very helpful audiolgy staff. However they are not a least bit pro active. i had to demand and insist that my hearing aids be unlocked so that i can access my various programs. im grateful for VA care however.

  15. Mike Ramsey    

    This is one benefit, from my point of view, that deserves 10’s across the board. Doctors, staff, procedures, aids and accessories are the best. THANKS!

  16. Earl Schroeder    

    Evansville, Indiana has supplied my hearing aids. I appreciate their prompt service.

  17. wesley clark    

    I was issued hearing aids through the va in nashville, TN probably 2006. I moved enid. Have hearing disabilityin 2014. My hearing aids dissapeared..
    I am on 100% disability and I need hearing aids can you help??

  18. wesley clark    

    I received hearing aids from Nashville . Living now in Enid ok 73701 l am on 100% permanent disability need replacement hearing aids. Can you help??

  19. D randolph    

    This article must leave out the Oklahoma VA system cause they told me the VA in Oklahoma only issued two types of hearing aids. I questioned that again was told only two types. I questioned so if I drive to Texas I can get a hearing aid outside the two they only issue in Oklahoma that will fit my and other veterans need. no comment from the audiologist

  20. Donald Noteboom    

    I have hearing aids from the Va but do i go about getting disabitly cause of my hearing

  21. Richard Rounds    

    There has been a study for tinnitus and balance disorders using frequency therapy; using tones in Hz. To strengthen the tiny boons in the ear preventing surgery. Has the VA looked into this practice? I understand it works, but for me to test this the equipment can be expensive. My research is limited.

  22. Mark Williams    

    Clarksburg, VAMC in Clarksburg, WV is the best for Audiology and ENT. Audiology Department uses state of the art computer hearing testing, ususally have results in about 15 minutes. Was wearing BTE aids in both ears, the molds were causing inner ear infections, recently got a BAHA(Bone attached hearing aid), I love it, and the folks explained everything. I have had a couple surgical procedures done at Clarksburg, they are awesome and really care, and they take time to discuss questions.

    1. Jeffrey Shaver    

      I have been trying to get my primary VAMC changed to Clarksburg because they are actually a closer drive than it is to Martinsburg for me … I have had nothing but complete incompetence out of Martinsburg.

  23. Eugene Alvin    

    Hi, I live 100 miles from Nashville. I am in the Nashville system but haven’t been there for about 5 years and I don’t have a primary care Dr. at this time.. My hearing is getting worse and I know it annoys my wife when I constantly have to have her repeat. I’d like to make an appointment at Nashville. Is there any way possible to make an appointment by phone? Doing a 200 mile round trip to Nashville just to make an appointment seems like a last resort.

    1. Mark Jennette    

      Try these numbers: 615-873-7970 or 800-228-4973 ext. 67970. These numbers are for appointment scheduling. Also, I believe getting an appointment will depend on whether you’ve already been evaluated and determined to have hearing loss that’s service connected.

  24. Steven Earl Smith    

    I want to know the V.A. policy on replacement hearing aids. Research has revealed ‘every three(3) years. However, Reno, V.A. ( Nevada ) says four(4) years. The ones I have are pitiful.

  25. Bonnie Hoover    

    My husband too was turn down due to they say we make too much money. Mind you we live pay check to pay check ..no luxuries. Just pay bill, taxes, utilities.. We only buy what we have. Due to my work
    (wife) we had to move out of the house we built and a friend is staying in it helping him and us..
    My husband served 8 years in the Army as a tank operator, became Sargent over his team.
    He has had 3I back surgery due to a curved spine he came out of the military with that later caused multiple fracture to his vertibras. He can hardly hear any normal conversation. But due to him serving in post Vietnam he is not eligible for health care

  26. Wiley Renfroe    

    I have been wearing hearing aids from the VA While stationed at Little Creek, VA I had a problem the DR did every test to try to find the problem. Luckly he did a hearing test. That is the only I could get hearing aids from the VA.

  27. Jeffrey Shaver    

    I had significant loss from the time I enlisted until my discharge according to my medical records and the examination with the VA. With being a Sonar Tech (Submarines), I was not surprised at all … I was surprised; however, that then the VA told me that I have to be almost completely deaf to receive any sort of hearing aids or benefits regarding my hearing. Just another failing mark. I guess Sonar Technicians are not in a rating which is known to be harmful to sailor’s hearing … according to the VA doctor that did my evaluation … ummm … ok?

  28. Everett E Dennis    

    USAF 1964-1968 crew chief B52 line and a lot of Alert duty KI Sawyer SAC Michigan . I have loss my upper end high pitch having a lot of problems in phone conversation. have no VA connection.

  29. Jack Cox    

    I am retired USN and served in the Naval Aviation for 22 years. When I went to the VA, I was told that I had extreme hearing loss, but it wasn’t service connected. Obviously, they worked on a flight deck of a carrier.

    I was offered a hearing with the VA board, but I lived almost 300 miles away when I got the offer. I declined the review board.

    I am 100% disabled for an entirely different reason. Is there any way to get hearing aids?

  30. Dan Stewart    

    Yeah, I just got my first audiology exam through the Veterans Choice Program. When I got there the doctor was off that day and his nurse game me the exam, no problem there. However she did ask me, “Why did they send you hear for a hearing exam? We don’t even have a sound-prof test booth to administer the test.” Well we proceeded into this small room that evidently doubles for something else, but will do in a crunch for audiology. Had a mobile set of earphones and equipment to try and take the test, although you could hear conversations on the outside of the door. It may have met the standard, probably failed it anyway, but was a waste of money on the VA’s part. Oh, and by the way the last audiology exam was 11 years ago for my initial disability claim, which was approved. All in all I still get great service from my VA provider.

  31. Francisco Santana    

    San juan,VA gave me hearing aids, for lost&tinnitus whit white noise for tinnitus and help a lot. Thanks VA.

  32. Michael Smith    

    I applied for a disability rating due to tinnitisus, but was also told that it wasn’t servic connected, I think this is a way for the VA to save on funds, since this sory knows about the hazzards we former service members endures.

    The VA is hoping that we die off, before accepting responsibility for not granting us ate just due.

  33. James F. Cayse    

    I also have tinnitus and other hearing issues since being in Aviation Maintenance for 26 years. I was also denied VA support because of my income. You’ve got to file a claim against VA. Get assistance from your local county VSO (Veterans Support Office).
    These guys/gals know the VA system and will take care of you. It takes months but don’t give up. Good luck. Jim Cayse, LCDR, USN

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