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Veterans! Hard of hearing? VA can help.

An audiologist installs a hearing aid for a Veteran patient

Clinical implant audiologist Nancy Duran attaches a bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) processor to a surgically implanted titanium abutment for Army Veteran Ahmedou Ali.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Army Veteran Ahmedou Ali loves his audiologists.

“I’m a 62 year old service-connected disabled Veteran who has been without hearing in the right ear for a long time. The bone anchored hearing aid (BAHA) VA provided opened up a whole new world for me.

“I absolutely love my audiologists, Erica Bush (VA NYHHS) and Nancy Duran (VA Miami), and the surgical team for making it happen.”

According to Duran, a clinical/implant audiologist, “With the number of Veterans affected by the occupational injury of hearing loss and tinnitus ever increasing, it is so important that VA is able to provide them with quality comprehensive hearing health care. The VA Audiology Program allows Veterans to receive comprehensive assessments, innovative rehabilitation programs for both hearing loss and tinnitus, and advanced technology.”

“For me to be able to provide these services is extremely rewarding.”

VA’s Audiology and Speech Language Pathology Services recognize the importance of caring for Veterans who experience difficulties with their hearing, balance, speech, and communication ability.

Hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears) account for the two most prevalent service-connected disabilities among Veterans.

The damaging effect of exposure to high noise levels in military operations or during routine military training is insidious, and many Servicemembers do not realize they have hearing loss until permanent damage has already occurred.

Multiple Services Provided

VA audiologists provide comprehensive hearing health care services, including:

  • Disability audiology exams for Veterans and Servicemembers, and medical opinions on relationship between military service and hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders
  • Assessment, evaluation, treatment, and management of hearing loss, tinnitus, and balance disorders
  • Fitting and programming hearing aids and other assistive listening devices such as TV and telephone amplifiers, and post-surgical rehabilitation for cochlear and other auditory implants
  • Hearing screening, noise induced hearing loss prevention services, and aural rehabilitation services to optimize residual hearing.

Duran adds that “These services come together to improve a Veteran’s ability to function in their day-to-day life and improve their quality of life by providing both rehabilitative tools and technology to keep them active and socially engaged. For me to be able to provide these services is extremely rewarding.”

Many Veterans also suffer problems with communication, cognition, memory, and swallowing as a result of traumatic brain injury, stroke, geriatric illnesses, spinal cord injury, and progressive or degenerative neurological disorders.

Duran points out that key members of the interdisciplinary care team that treat such patients are speech-language pathologists, who provide professional services that include:

  • Screening, evaluation, treatment, and prevention services for speech, language, and voice disorders;
  • Evaluation and treatment of swallowing disorders for individuals who are experiencing problems with eating and drinking
  • Provision of specialized assistive technology to assist Veterans with cognitive or communication disorders, including speech-generating devices, cognitive communication aids such as personal digital assistants, global positioning systems, and rehabilitative and restorative voice services including voice prostheses.

Largest Team in America

VA is the largest employer of audiologists and speech-language pathologists in the U.S. with over 1,100 audiologists providing services across 400 sites of care.

More than 400 speech-language pathologists offer services at over 190 sites of care across VA.

Good hearing, speech, and communication ability are essential to Veterans’ quality of life and their ability to live and function independently. VA is proud of its efforts to help Veterans maintain their hearing and speech health and well-being.

Audiology Fact Sheet

Speech Language Pathology Fact Sheet