Hearing damage often cannot be reversed. Those who suffer from it may have tools they can use to cope, such as hearing aids, but the actual ability to hear at the previous level may not return, even with time.
This is one of the challenges faced by veterans who return from a war zone. They often have to work around heavy machinery and weapons that can cause severe hearing damage. Examples include:
- Jet engines
- Aircraft taking off and landing
- Gunfire from nearby soldiers
- Gunfire from the weapon the soldier is holding
- Nearby explosions
- Rocket fire and heavy weapons
- Engines running constantly
- Alarms going off
They can plan for some of this. A solider working at an airbase and helping planes land or take off can wear hearing protection while on the job, for instance. This can help.
But war is unpredictable. What if an emergency happens, planes need to take off quickly, and the soldier does not have time to get hearing protection? What if a solider is in a vehicle that gets attacked by a roadside bomb? Physically, they may feel fine, but the loud explosion can still cause damage. What if the solider is standing next to others during an engagement and has to concentrate more on staying alive and protecting his or her fellow soldiers than looking for hearing protection?
Things happen quickly, but the damage can last for life. It is important for veterans who return and have to live with these issues to know exactly what legal options they have and what steps they can take.