The Royal British Legion calls on Government to do more to support Service personnel and veterans with hearing problems.
The Royal British Legion today calls on the Government to provide better support and recognition to members of the Armed Forces and veterans with hearing problems caused by military Service. In a report entitled Lost Voices, published today, the Legion reveals that veterans under the age of 75 are three-and-a-half times more likely than the general population to report problems with their hearing.
Lost Voices argues that working-age veterans with Service-induced hearing problems should be eligible for ‘special treatment’, in line with the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. Lost Voices reports the findings of Legion research on hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), and makes a number of recommendations for Government. It was produced by the Legion in collaboration with the Ear Institute at University College London, Action on Hearing Loss and the British Tinnitus Association.
At a minimum, the Legion calls on the Government to:
- Enable working-age veterans to access higher grade hearing aids, including less conspicuous ‘in the ear’ hearing aids, and ensure that all veterans can have their MOD-issued aids serviced and replaced at no cost;
- Compensate Service personnel and veterans properly for hearing problems caused by their time in the military. This should consider both damage caused during Service and any differences between the hearing of a veteran of a particular age, compared with a non-veteran of the same age, to take account of the long term impact of hearing problems caused by Service; and
- Invest in the EARSHOT Centre – a proposed new centre of research and clinical expertise. Long-term investment would allow a thorough programme of research on Service-related hearing loss to be set up.
Chris Simpkins, Director General of The Royal British Legion, said: “Hearing loss is one of the signature injuries of war and military Service, and it can have a profound effect on career prospects, relationships, social life and mental health.
“Many veterans, some of whom have been discharged due to hearing loss, are not eligible for compensation. Some find themselves having to pay out of their own pockets for military-issued hearing aids to be serviced and replaced. This is unacceptable.
“Our report calls on the Government to do more to recognise the sacrifices made by Service people and veterans suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus, and the importance of good hearing to a healthy, productive and happy life.”
Read the full report (in PDF format) here.