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Veterans with hearing loss waiting months to get hearing aids

Updated: Wednesday, July 23 2014, 03:24 PM MDT
Veterans with hearing loss waiting months to get hearing aids story image

By: Ruben Veloz

EL PASO, Texas -- It’s the most common injury soldiers experience when they return home, but a new report shows many of our war heroes aren't getting the help they need fast enough to bring back their hearing.
A report by the Washington Times reveals the VA is taking weeks, even months to provide hearing aids to its patients who suffered hearing loss while on the field.
 
"It only takes one time to be exposed to very loud noise and to cause hearing loss," said Dr. Nakai Butler.
          
Butler, who is also a Navy veteran, tells KFOX14 it's a problem that's been happening for several years and only getting worse.
 
"Imagine needing to cross the street and not being able to hear certain sounds, not being aware that a car is coming or turned suddenly, you might accidentally get hit by a car."
          
Since 9/11, more than 440,000 veterans suffered from hearing loss, according to 2010 data from the Hearing Center of Excellence
          
The VA said it hasn't been able to help veterans fast enough because of staffing issues, but investigators found many of those hearing aids have been sitting in boxes waiting for repairs.
 
“The VA system has a mail in system. If something breaks or malfunctions with your hearing aid, you can actually box up your hearing aid and mail them in," said Butler.  "They'll repair them and mail them back to your home, but this is where the backlog and the problem is occurring."
          
Butler said not only is the backlog dangerous for veterans, but it's also causing them to suffer emotionally.
 
"They can kind of become isolated from their friends and family, when activities are going on they know that they can't hear so well, they are less likely to participate in those activities and that can lead to loneliness and depression," said Butler.
 
Butler said the VA should start outsourcing hearing aid services to local and private clinics.
 
She said the only places that have done that were in Oklahoma and Philadelphia. 

Veterans with hearing loss waiting months to get hearing aids
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