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How Hearing Loss Affects Your Unit
Noise is perhaps the most prevalent environmental hazard Soldiers face today. Training and combat environments place Soldiers at risk for noise induced hearing loss. In particular the high impulse noise that comes from weapons fire can cause hearing damage more quickly than exposure non-impulsive noises. Hearing loss due to noise exposure usually occurs first in the high frequency range. A hearing loss requires that the listener have more volume to hearing soft sounds. Most speech sounds that give meaning to words (consonant sounds) are high frequency sounds. Thus hearing soft sounds and clearly understanding speech becomes more difficult for Soldiers who have hearing loss due to noise exposure.
People with NIHL often think they hear fine. This is usually true because they do still hear some sounds very softly. Unfortunately, not hearing high frequencies (consonant sounds) will affect the ability to understand speech. Soldiers with high frequency hearing loss usually perform well in quite, listening environments and in one-on-one conversations but can have significant difficulties understanding when there is background noise, multiple talkers or on radio communication systems. These listening environments can be critical to a Soldier's survivability.
All active duty personnel enrolled in the Army Hearing program must:
- Receive an annual hearing screening. Additionally all deploying and re-deploying permanent personnel must receive a hearing screening prior to deployment and upon return from deployment. The unit hearing program officer should contact the Fort Hood Army Hearing Program at 285-6288 or 285-6348 to schedule group hearing testing for the unit.
- Receive a briefing on prevention of hearing loss annually, training must be conducted by Fort Hood Army Hearing Program personnel or an approved designee. Unit hearing officers should call 254-285-6288 or 285-6348 to schedule annual unit hearing loss prevention training for the unit.
IAW DA PAM 40-501: Commanders must appoint a Hearing Conservation Officer (recommend E-6 or above). New HPOs must call 285-6288 or 285-6348 to schedule a date to attend training for this position.
H-2: Soldiers with level 2 hearing profiles do not typically require and specific direct action by a commander. However, Soldiers with H2 profiles may exhibit some difficulties hearing. Common problems: hearing soft sounds; understanding speech in background noise with multiple talkers; or over communication systems. It is up to the Soldier's chain of command to ensure the Soldier is able to perform assigned duties appropriately and safely with an H2 level hearing loss.
H3: Soldiers with level 3 hearing are required to complete the MOS Administrative Retention Review (MAR2) process. Soldiers will remain a NO GO in MEDPROS until the MAR2 is completed. The "W" code on the electronic DA 3349 is required upon completion of the MAR2. ALL Soldiers who meet H3 hearing profile standards are required to have a diagnostic hearing evaluation by an audiologist and SPRINT evaluation prior to the MAR2.
Communication Enhancement and Protection Devices
New hearing protectors that enhance the ability to hear and protect the hearing of the user are becoming increasingly available. These devices are designed to not only protect hearing but also cases enhance or improve hearing. Many devices also allow direct interface with a variety of communications devices. To find out more information about these devices and their availability, contact the Fort Hood Army Hearing Program Manager at 285-6186 for more information.
page last modified on: 5/7/2013