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With 300,000 members of the military community affected by noise induced hearing loss what support is available to help ex-service personnel

With World Hearing Day being held on 3 March, I wanted to highlight how Irwin Mitchell supports serving and ex-military personnel whose hearing has been damaged by noise exposure alongside the work that UK Veterans Hearing Foundation do and how it supports ex-service personnel.

Every year, thousands of military personnel suffer from noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and tinnitus. Many ex-service personnel claim for compensation after they suffer hearing damage whilst working for the Ministry of Defence (MoD). 

Although I support a number of ex-soldiers, I also support personnel from other trades, such as radio operators and mechanics. Typically excessive noise exposure comes from:

  • Weapon fire, including SA80 rifles, light and heavy machine guns
  • Flash bangs, mortars and grenades
  • Aircraft, boat and vehicle engine noise.

But exposure to noise can happen in a range of scenarios.

The Ministry of Defence provides staff with personal protective equipment. But sometimes things go wrong. When they do, the effect can be devastating, and can ultimately lead to a lost career in the Armed Forces.

Injuries can be more significant than thought

I support a lot of people who believe their injury is minor. But often the injury’s significant enough to result in a medical downgrade and can lead to discharge from the Armed Forces.

The UK Veterans Hearing Foundation

My noise-induced hearing loss colleagues and I work closely with the UK Veterans Hearing Foundation (UKVHF). The UKVHF is a charity that supports veterans with damaged hearing, providing them with hearing aids and other equipment. Its work is vital for veterans and service personnel who’ve experienced hearing loss whilst serving in the Armed Forces.

Thousands leave the Armed Forces with little-to-no access to hearing healthcare

I recently caught up with Chloe Johnston, a business development manager from UKVHF, to talk about the charity’s great work, and its plans for the future. 

Chloe said:“We’re devoted to helping ex-service personnel get the treatment they need for hearing loss and other associated conditions.

“Sadly, over 300,000 of the military community are affected by NIHL because of explosions or the excessive use of weaponry and firearms. Thousands of veterans leave the Armed Forces every year with little-to-no access to hearing healthcare. 

“To support the military community, we’ve set-up an independent network of audiologists to fit veterans with high-quality hearing aids across the country. We also provide access to tinnitus counselling and mental health support. 

“Our research found veterans with hearing loss are often neglected, and many can’t afford suitable hearing aids. These are needed to improve their high frequency hearing loss. 

“In some cases, untreated hearing loss can lead to a range of mental health conditions, and often makes existing ones worse. This can cause veterans to withdraw from social situations, so it’s important that veterans get the medical attention they need." 

Working to break down barriers

Chloe added: “We used to be an organisation called the UK Veteran’s Hearing Help, and we’re proud to have fitted over 500 veterans with hearing aids between 2016 and 2019. In 2020, we became a charity, and since then we’ve fitted another 55 veterans. 

“As a charity it’s become obvious there’s an ongoing issue that veterans are desperate for hearing support. 

“We’re working to break barriers faced by ex-service personnel by providing first-rate hearing assessments, hearing aid fittings and comprehensive aftercare. We hope we can support  veterans to live normal civilian lives.”

More information about UKVHF can be found on its website

You can also find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people who've been injured while serving in the Armed Forces at our dedicated military injuries claims section.