US troops losing hearing


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funnybone
March 7, 2008, 05:31 PM
:cuss:

AP IMPACT: US troops losing hearing By CHELSEA J. CARTER, Associated Press Writer
29 minutes ago



Soldiers and Marines caught in roadside bombings and firefights in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home in epidemic numbers with permanent hearing loss and ringing in their ears, prompting the military to redouble its efforts to protect the troops from noise.

Hearing damage is the No. 1 disability in the war on terror, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and some experts say the true toll could take decades to become clear. Nearly 70,000 of the more than 1.3 million troops who have served in the two war zones are collecting disability for tinnitus, a potentially debilitating ringing in the ears, and more than 58,000 are on disability for hearing loss, the VA said.

"The numbers are staggering," said Theresa Schulz, a former audiologist with the Air Force, past president of the National Hearing Conservation Association and author of a 2004 report titled "Troops Return With Alarming Rates of Hearing Loss."

One major explanation given is the insurgency's use of a fearsome weapon the Pentagon did not fully anticipate: powerful roadside bombs. Their blasts cause violent changes in air pressure that can rupture the eardrum and break bones inside the ear.

Also, much of the fighting consists of ambushes, bombings and firefights, which come suddenly and unexpectedly, giving soldiers no time to use their military-issued hearing protection.

"They can't say, `Wait a minute, let me put my earplugs in,'" said Dr. Michael E. Hoffer, a Navy captain and one of the country's leading inner-ear specialists. "They are in the fight of their lives."

In addition, some servicemen on patrol refuse to wear earplugs for fear of dulling their senses and missing sounds that can make the difference between life and death, Hoffer and others said. Others were not given earplugs or did not take them along when they were sent into the war zone. And some Marines weren't told how to use their specialized earplugs and inserted them incorrectly.

Hearing damage has been a battlefield risk ever since the introduction of explosives and artillery, and the U.S. military recognized it in Iraq and Afghanistan and issued earplugs early on. But the sheer number of injuries and their nature particularly the high incidence of tinnitus came as a surprise to military medical specialists and outside experts.

The military has responded over the past three years with better and easier-to-use earplugs, greater efforts to educate troops about protecting their hearing, and more testing in the war zone to detect ear injuries.

The results aren't in yet on the new measures, but Army officials believe they will significantly slow the rate of new cases of hearing damage, said Col. Kathy Gates, the Army surgeon general's audiology adviser.

Considerable damage has already been done.

For former Staff Sgt. Ryan Kelly, 27, of Austin, Texas, the noise of war is still with him more than four years after the simultaneous explosion of three roadside bombs near Baghdad.

"It's funny, you know. When it happened, I didn't feel my leg gone. What I remember was my ears ringing," said Kelly, whose leg was blown off below the knee in 2003. Today, his leg has been replaced with a prosthetic, but his ears are still ringing.

"It is constantly there," he said. "It constantly reminds me of getting hit. I don't want to sit here and think about getting blown up all the time. But that's what it does."

Sixty percent of U.S. personnel exposed to blasts suffer from permanent hearing loss, and 49 percent also suffer from tinnitus, according to military audiology reports. The hearing damage ranges from mild, such as an inability to hear whispers or low pitches, to severe, including total deafness or a constant loud ringing that destroys the ability to concentrate. There is no known cure for tinnitus or hearing loss.

The number of servicemen and servicewomen on disability because of hearing damage is expected to grow 18 percent a year, with payments totaling $1.1 billion annually by 2011, according to an analysis of VA data by the American Tinnitus Association. Anyone with at least a 10 percent loss in hearing qualifies for disability.

From World War II and well through Vietnam, hearing damage has been a leading disability.

Despite everything that has been learned over the years, U.S. troops are suffering hearing damage at about the same rate as World War II vets, according to VA figures. But World War II and Iraq cannot easily be compared. World War II was a different kind of war, waged to a far greater extent by way of vast artillery barrages, bombing raids and epic tank battles.

Given today's fearsome weaponry, even the best hearing protection is only partly effective and only if it's properly used.

Some Marines were issued a $7.40 pair of double-sided earplugs, with one side designed to protect from weapons fire and explosions, the other from aircraft and tank noise. But the Marines were not given instructions in how to use the earplugs, and some cut them in half, while others used the wrong sides, making the devices virtually useless, Hoffer said. Today, instructions are handed out with the earplugs.

In any case, hearing protection has its limits. While damage can occur at 80 to 85 decibels the noise level of a moving tank the best protection cuts that by only 20 to 25 decibels. That is not enough to protect the ears against an explosion or a firefight, which can range upwards of 183 decibels, said Dr. Ben Balough, a Navy captain and chairman of otolaryngology at the Balboa Navy Medical Center in San Diego.

The Navy and Marines have begun buying and distributing state-of-the-art earplugs, known as QuietPro, that contain digital processors that block out damaging sound waves from gunshots and explosions and still allow users to hear everyday noises. They cost about $600 a pair.

The Army also has equipped every soldier being sent to Iraq and Afghanistan with newly developed one-sided earplugs that cost about $8.50, and it has begun testing QuietPro with some troops.

In addition, the Navy is working with San Diego-based American BioHealth Group to develop a "hearing pill" that could protect troops' ears. An early study in 2003 on 566 recruits showed a 25 to 27 percent reduction in permanent hearing loss. But further testing is planned.

And for the first time in American warfare, for the past three years, hearing specialists or hearing-trained medics have been put on the front lines instead of just at field hospitals, Hoffer said.

Marines and soldiers are getting hearing tests before going on patrol and when they return to base if they were exposed to bombs or gunfire.

"You have guys that don't want to admit they have a problem," Hoffer said. "But if they can't hear what they need to on patrol, they could jeopardize their lives, their buddies' lives and, ultimately, their mission."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080307/ap_on_re_us/combat_hearing_loss;_ylt=AiBfRtj8ocskN8ismd3H_g.s0NUE

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mekender
March 7, 2008, 05:43 PM
well at least they are recognizing that it is a problem... and it sounds like they are doing something about it

i remember reading a while back that the number one injury in iraq is flash burns to the finger(s)... apparently the troops are either using fingerless gloves, or are cutting the tips of the gloves off so that they have a better tactile feel on their weapons... the downside to this is that when they are near a grenade, IED, mortar, air strike or car bomb explosion, super heated gases cause severe burns to their fingers... and obviously a soldier without functional fingers is fairly useless in combat... so they sent out repeated directives to the COs to make sure that the troops stopped cutting off the fingers of their gloves...

Tyris
March 7, 2008, 06:17 PM
Perhaps issuing silencers would be cheaper than paying for long term disability.

-T

funnybone
March 7, 2008, 06:22 PM
I wish I had some of those ear muffs when I spent 20 years working in machine shops.
And then driving trucks for another 20+ years. Now I ware two hearing aids, and have ringing in the ears 24/7. So I know what their going through. I`am
glad they are at least trying to do somthing.
__________________

CountGlockula
March 7, 2008, 06:29 PM
The worse effects of defective hearing are the headaches and migrains.

Grandpa Shooter
March 7, 2008, 06:52 PM
They knew more than forty yers ago what damage we were suffering from close explosions and gun fire. A great many of us had damage dating back to 1965 and beyond. Big difference is that the new soldiers are being coached to speak up about what they suffer so they don't just "live with it" like so many of us have before.

The end cost of this military action will be worse than the Social Security or welfare crisis ever was thought to be. With the incidence of severe brain trauma, PTSD, and other disabilites like hearing loss, the cost to the taxpayer will be out of this world.

Just my opinion.

Tyris
March 7, 2008, 07:06 PM
Interesting point.

Probably not the right forum for this, but we've had the stock market bubble, the housing bubble, next up: the entitlement bubble. It is inevitable. Our little ponzi scheme has almost run its course.

-T

Mk VII
March 7, 2008, 07:08 PM
Perhaps issuing silencers would be cheaper than paying for long term disability.

Not unless you give the other side silencers as well

Tyris
March 7, 2008, 07:10 PM
Not unless you give the other side silencers as well

I take it you believe that a gun's muzzle is equally loud when fired 2 feet from your face as when fired by someone else 50 yards away?

Silencers have direct benefit regardless of the other side's equipment.

-T

Ragnar Danneskjold
March 7, 2008, 07:15 PM
Even if the enemy doesn't have suppressors, that's still half as many loud weapons in an engagement as before. Of course there is still the crew served weapons and 249s that cannot be suppressed. Don't suppressors need to be taken care of more too?

Tommygunn
March 7, 2008, 07:21 PM
I'm sure this isn't a new phenomenon. Military men exposed to battles with loud explosions and such have probably had to deal with this before.
My father spent some time on destroyers during the Korean War. He was in a UDT team, but they had to operate off of something. He said the 3" guns were particularly bad on the ears, and felt he'd lost some hearing as a result later in life.
It wasn't pronounced but if you tried to talk to him from another room it would annoy him because it was hard for him to hear what was being said.

marksman13
March 7, 2008, 07:30 PM
I know that I've lost much of my hearing. It's frustrating, but it has made me much more aware of ear protection when shooting my personal firearms. If it is bigger than a 22LR, I've got plugs in.

Winchester 73
March 7, 2008, 07:43 PM
I can sympathize about this situation.
Being a Army Medic in a tank outfit, I had to pull duty while M60's were firing away downrange and 50 calibers blazing.Also range coverage while my Battalion was qualifying for record every 6 months with the M14/M16.
The hearing protection in the '60's was woefully inadequate.As a result my hearing is terribly degraded.
And what I experienced is nothing compared to what the guys in Iraq and the Afghan are going through with roadside bombs,IED's,etc.

sacp81170a
March 7, 2008, 07:45 PM
Huh? What? I'm only half joking. 10 years around military equipment, aircraft, explosions and small arms fire have left me with a constant ringing and a high frequency hearing loss. I guard my hearing religiously now, but you can't wear earmuffs or plugs in a combat situation.

Grizzly Adams
March 7, 2008, 08:35 PM
At least now they are admitting that the personnel in combat situations need hearing protection. It was unheard of in prior wars.

The only ones that I'm aware of that had hearing protection in the Vietnam War were the ones that worked on flightlines, A/C Carriers, larger field guns and such. If the basic grunt complained about a hearing problem he was accused of malingering.

Bart Noir
March 7, 2008, 08:38 PM
Wasn't the Navy mentioned?

I've worked with 2 guys who had topside battle stations near the main guns on cruisers. While they were shelling North Korean troops.

The blast from those big guns would remove their helmets and sometimes pieces of clothing. Yeah, they didn't hear all that well when they were in their '50s and older.

Bart Noir

Intune
March 7, 2008, 08:47 PM
Surely we can afford "electronic" hearing enhancers/protection for our troops. Or, maybe not... Sorry, I came from the Army during Carter & then Reagan came in. We went from OD green to camo, C-Rats to MRE's & M60A3's to M1's. Ahhh...

I'm talkin' about the plugs that enhance sound but then limit @ a certain DB. It's gotta be a $$$ issue.

walking arsenal
March 7, 2008, 08:52 PM
I think the troops need to quite their whining.

And stick earplugs in their heads. Those little orange ones are what? 10 cents a pop? If that.

Joining the military expecting not to get hurt is like jumping in a pool and expecting to not get wet.

It's an unreasonable expectation.

The government is hard on their equipment because it doesn't belong to them. It's free to them, paid for by the tax payers.

A soldier is just another tool in the military arsenal.

You sign the papers to be a tool for uncle Sam expect to get used hard and thrown out when your no good.

Don't like it? Don't sign up. Draftees are a different matter of course.

Thats the way it works for any other job that isn't unionized.

One of Many
March 7, 2008, 09:16 PM
I just looked up QuietPro. Interesting! It seems that someone has decided to use active noise canceling technology to protect individual hearing from loss in high noise environments.

Active noise cancellation involves detecting the noise frequencies, and generating countering noise at the same amplitude and frequency, but 180 degrees out of phase; this results in the noise at that frequency canceling out (like adding 5 and negative 5 results in zero). It takes a powerful signal processing unit to do the required real time sound detection and sound synthesis that is required to make this work. These units will not be inexpensive, but no matter what they cost, it will be much less than the disability payments that would otherwise be paid for the remaining lifetime of those who suffer hearing loss.

Floppy_D
March 7, 2008, 09:45 PM
Joining the military expecting not to get hurt is like jumping in a pool and expecting to not get wet.

Who said these guys expected not to get hurt? Just because the chance is there doesn't mean that we shouldn't do what we can to help.

A soldier is just another tool in the military arsenal.

Silly me, I thought we were men and women who understood a call and answered. I guess we aren't fathers, sons, mothers, brothers or sisters... just tools. Thanks.

I guess I'll get back to being a tool, since that's all I'm good for.

Harley Quinn
March 7, 2008, 09:53 PM
I think the troops need to quite their whining

I did not get that out of what was posted by the OP. I have severe hearing loss over time because of several factors, exposure to loud noise and continuous noise.
The number coming home with bad hearing will be sad, but it makes for another company to come up with a product that will help on both ends of the problem I would think.

I use a hearing aid everyday, I have the noise in my ears all the time 24/7 I live with it and others do also, not a fun thing...But as others have mentioned, thats life. In the civil war it was loss of hearing and limbs for the returning soldier...Some have no respect for it (loss of hearing) others do :banghead: It is a problem for me everyday I deal with it the best I can and am thankful for the hearing aids.

HQ

plexreticle
March 7, 2008, 09:55 PM
Soldiers losing hearing has been going on since the invention of gunpowder.

Ohen Cepel
March 7, 2008, 09:56 PM
I replied to this on another forum and will make the exact same post here.

I do wonder about people who beat the drum on several sites though.......

"It's a very hard thing to combat.

The new plugs are very good and no one wearing them has suffered an eardrum rupture even if they were hit by an IED.

However, it's very hard to wear hearing protection all the time. The military has really made some good steps forward but we're behind in education and enforcing the standard.

I'm very aware of the risk and am very good about wearing hearing protection. However, I would be wrong to say that I wear it all the time. Unlike eye protection you give something up when you're wearing it."

Sistema1927
March 7, 2008, 09:57 PM
I think the troops need to quite (sic) their whining.

Who said that they were whining? Did you even read the article?

I guess that you were "too smart" to become "a tool for uncle Sam". Some of us were proud to serve, even when it cost us dearly in injury, deprivation, and discomfort.

Ohen Cepel
March 7, 2008, 10:07 PM
I'm a bit angry now.

Many of you didn't read the research presented.

For those that think the Soldiers are whining I would ask you to take the time to visit the nearest MEDCEN and spend some time with the amputies or burn patients. I was at Ft. Sam Houston recently and it was very hard to deal with for me, these are young kids have paid a very high price.

For those of you that want to compare our military service to a union job. I think you are missing a lot. We will not go on strike when things are not to our liking or we don't care for the work................ Do you really think the world would be a better place if the Army could strike when it didn't feel like fighting? The "old country" has that and we see how well that's working for them.

Floppy_D
March 7, 2008, 10:16 PM
Ohen Cepel, the only problem I had here was the belittling of another's sacrifices, the stench of indignance, and the general disrespect towards veterans... none of which was presented by you. You brought up an important issue, very personal to me, and I thank you for addressing it.

walking arsenal
March 7, 2008, 10:18 PM
I have severe hearing loss over time because of several factors, exposure to loud noise and continuous noise.
The number coming home with bad hearing will be sad, but it makes for another company to come up with a product that will help on both ends of the problem I would think.


Sure hope so. My Grand dad is ex 82nd Airborne, WW 2. Lost his hearing in his right ear because some coward layed down in the door of his jump plane on a night training op. He tripped over him on the way out and his parachute straps clapped his ear drums.

He was 19.

He's never asked for or expected compensation for it either.

Just another one of the men and women who understood a call and answered..

I guess that you were "too smart" to become "a tool for uncle Sam".

Yup, guess so.

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=322383

Floppy_D
March 7, 2008, 10:30 PM
My Grand dad is ex 82nd Airborne, WW 2.

Cool, have you told him he's a tool yet?

walking arsenal
March 7, 2008, 10:32 PM
My point is, Ohen Cepel, that most unionized jobs will compensate people for the wear and tear that they earn on the job.

There are plenty of people that do crappy jobs that get 0 compensation for it.

This day in age, people expect to be monetarily compensated for every little nick and scratch that happens to them.

Like a dollar bill makes a good bandage. If they think money is going to cover those scars they are flat out wrong.

Enough said on that. I apologize, its a sore spot with me and it was a bit of a knee jerk reaction.

Yup, the troops need to be taken care of. x2 Yup they need the right gear, especially eyes and ears. We wear them on the range that goes double for a combat zone.

But like at the range there are people who are going to just be too dumb to wear them.

But unlike at the range you tax dollars are going to have to fix their stupid.

Cool, have you told him he's a tool yet?

Don't have too, he's the one who explained to me that a soldier is just another implement in the machine of war.

The guns don't work if there are no fingers to pull the triggers. I think some of you guys are thinking of the wrong kind of tool.

41magsnub
March 7, 2008, 10:41 PM
Walking Arsenal, I'm not sure what to say to the rank idiocy and disrespect you are showing for the military that would be acceptable on this board so I'm not going to. I hope someday you understand. Don't bother with the self righteous snarky reply since nothing you can say going forward carries any weight, you are the first person I've ever put on ignore.

Floppy_D
March 7, 2008, 10:51 PM
Yup, I took it wrong. If you meant no disrespect to the individual sacrifices, then please accept my apology for my crass tone. I interpreted your post as calling servicemembers "tools" for joining.

That aside, you know from your SAR work that some safety equipment can eventually become a nuisance. I'm a fan of eyepro/earpro, but I don't wear either deer hunting. I suspect I'm not alone. So even if these guys were properly trained and equipped, I'm sure they pull the plugs out every now and then, even briefly, for comfort's sake. Even a vigilant crew can get caught with their pants down.

It's a shame that our men and women lose what God gave them... but I've yet to hear one whine over it.

sacp81170a
March 7, 2008, 11:04 PM
We wear them on the range that goes double for a combat zone.

But like at the range there are people who are going to just be too dumb to wear them.

Uh, you don't need to be able to hear from which direction people are shooting at you "on the range". In combat it's a matter of life and death. So much for the inconvenience. :rolleyes:

There's also the little matter of being able to communicate without having to yell and give away your position to everyone within a hundred yards among other things that make wearing ear plugs more hazardous than not in a combat zone. Electronic hearing protection would be the ticket, but none seems to be being issued to the troops just yet AFAIK.

walking arsenal
March 7, 2008, 11:36 PM
Thanks Floppy.

I completely agree.

When was in the USAF AUX we had guys ditch theirs all the time on the flight line because they were too hot.

And that was around jet engines. Go fig.

You are the first person I've ever put on ignore.

Your the first person who has ever called me "Snarky". No loss on my end.

Aguila Blanca
March 7, 2008, 11:37 PM
Surely we can afford "electronic" hearing enhancers/protection for our troops. Or, maybe not... Sorry, I came from the Army during Carter & then Reagan came in. We went from OD green to camo, C-Rats to MRE's & M60A3's to M1's. Ahhh...

I'm talkin' about the plugs that enhance sound but then limit @ a certain DB. It's gotta be a $$$ issue.
No, the issue is who is going to get the $$$.

The Sportsmans Guide catalog can sell you a pair of noise-cancelling ear muffs with an NRC of 25 (or 27?), amplification of normal sound, and an 85 dB cut-off, for the princely sum of $19.95 (plus shipping). If Gary Olen can SELL them for 20 bucks, how much do you think the DoD would have to pay for them in quantities of thousands per order? My guess -- not much.

Do they work? Yeah, actually they do. Silencio or one of the other "brand names" might be marginally better, but the NRC on the SGC $20 muffs is better than that of some other muffs I have that don't do anything except muffle. Worn with foam plugs underneath, the noise reduction shooting at an indoor range is phenomenal.

And, yeah -- I'm in sympathy with the grunts. I'm a Vietnam veteran, and I hear a constant ringing in both ears as I sit here typing this. It's one thing to volunteer knowing you run a risk of being wounded or killed. You can sort of graps that concept and come to terms with it. I don't know about anyone else, but when I enlisted back in the late 60's, I was willing to risk being killed, I hoped like hell I wouldn't be crippled, but I never EVER considered that I might spend the rest of my life with an annoying, high-pitched whine inside my head, or have to live with a couple of other problems that came home with me and which the gummint declined to acknowledge.

Evocatii
March 7, 2008, 11:42 PM
I lost some of my hearing and developed tinnitus due to the Iraq war. I can't say I like it, but I accept the fact as part of the sacrifice. The upside, rifle hunting no longer causes me ear pain. I do wear hearing protection when shooting my magnums at the range. I do try to save what is left of my hearing. My wife already has a hard time dealing with my hearing problem.

Average conversation between my wife and myself:

Wife: "Can you turn it down?"
Me: "What?"

sacp81170a
March 7, 2008, 11:43 PM
No, the issue is who is going to get the $$$.

It's an issue, but there are lots of other issues as well. Ear muffs do not fit well under helmets or NBC gear. They would make using much of the communications equipment in the inventory difficult. The type of hearing protection I think would work best would be some kind of electronic plugs. They'd have to be ruggedized for military use. They shouldn't be too expensive, but they'll almost certainly cost more than $19.95.

When was in the USAF AUX we had guys ditch theirs all the time on the flight line because they were too hot.

Omigosh, did you tell those guys they were "tools" as well? Good thing nobody was actually trying to kill you or you would've ditched your ear plugs too.

BridgeWalker
March 8, 2008, 12:03 AM
Walking Arsenal, I'm not sure what to say to the rank idiocy and disrespect you are showing for the military that would be acceptable on this board so I'm not going to. I hope someday you understand. Don't bother with the self righteous snarky reply since nothing you can say going forward carries any weight, you are the first person I've ever put on ignore.

This. I'm too angry to craft my own reply. :fire:

ETA: No. I'm not.

Your grandfather earned the right to speak about the service in that way. You haven't. I haven't. Having disqualifying medical conditions sucks. I know all about it.

A man has a right to see himself as a tool, even his fellow servicemen as tools. If you don't serve, you don't get to talk like that. Someone who gives up his hearing for this country does not deserved to be called a whiner by someone who has never spent a day in uniform, and I don't care that you're willing to do so. Grandpa's service does not give you the right to speak with disrespect.

Chindo18Z
March 8, 2008, 12:11 AM
Walking Arsenal: Your post on "whining" is the most stupid drivel I've ever had the mispleasure to read on this board.

USAF AUX? Combat hearing conservation & veterans benefit advice from CAP...no thanks :barf:

RP88
March 8, 2008, 12:16 AM
Even if they did whine, they'd have a justification to do so. Getting shot at, getting your leg blown off, etc. etc. is something that complaining would be justified for. What was the last thing -you- complained about? Had a bad day at work? Aw, you poor bastard...

ArfinGreebly
March 8, 2008, 02:17 AM
I'm seeing some knee jerks.

Some of you need to read this post.

And then the middle of this one.

A man says something crass, then he apologizes. It happens that there is context beyond the current discussion.

He is of the opinion that soldiers are "tools" of war.

As it happens, that's a particularly apt description of what a soldier is. Volunteer or not, the orders he follows are given by people whose bread is buttered by politics. He may "answer the call" but when he stands on the battlefield and faces the enemy, follows his sergeant's orders, and places himself in harm's way, he has become part of a machine. And if the battle plan is well conceived and the tactics are well executed and the machine -- and all its parts -- functions as designed, the battle is won.

This isn't a new concept.

It takes character to volunteer to sacrifice one's individuality to the greater cause, to knowingly set aside the "self" and become the machine, and the transition from person to machine and back again can be a form of trauma all its own.

Still, the soldier -- even possessed of reason and rationality -- must even so be a tool of war when the time comes.

Now, given that this doesn't directly address the matter at hand -- the reality of disability resulting from this service -- it qualifies simply as an observation.

The value judgement -- that these soldiers should accept their injuries as part of the price -- that's somewhat harder to swallow.

While I may disagree with that conclusion, I won't be calling him names about it.

Keep it civil, and leave the personal attacks out of it.

The topic is marginal to begin with, but does relate to safety and precautions for hearing loss from shooting.

Anybody have a bright idea for how to protect hearing while preserving the ability to hear well enough for directional perception? While weighing pretty much nothing? And not interfering with other gear?

That would be seriously useful.

For soldiers, hunters, home defense, and all that.

jrfoxx
March 8, 2008, 02:20 AM
However, it's very hard to wear hearing protection all the time.
I think that's the biggest problem here.If they wear hearig protection, even electronic ones that only "kick in" when the gun is fired, they wont be able to hear what is going on, or orders/instructions/cries for help, etc. once the shooting starts, which I imagine isa REAL imprtant time you'd need to hearinstructions, orders, etc.So those wouldnt really be better than just regular plugs/muffs, as you dont need them when your not shooting, and once the shooting starts, they will kick in (and stay that way as long as smeone nearby is shooting,).you may not end up with hearing damage, but you or someone else might end up dead because someone couldnt hear enough.I'm sure its already hard enough to hear over just the gunfire, but now add in plugs/muffs too, and it bcomes even worse.
Only solution I can see, is electronic plugs (someone already mentioned that muffs dont work well with helmets,NBC gear, etc so those are pretty much out), that also incorporate a comm. system with headsets or such, so those operating together are all able to communicate with each other, while the plugs deaden the gunfire.And it seems like there lots of potential issues with that still.
The person who invents a good, safe, sturdy,reliable solution to let soldiers still be able hear what they need to hear, and block out the gunfire, explosions, etc at the same time, will be a hero to the military, on top of becoming very rich, thats for sure....
And the good news is, because of those 2 things, I guarantee there are people working on the problem as we speak.

jlbraun
March 8, 2008, 04:09 AM
Now is a good time to get behind any effort to make suppressors Title I...

:D

Floppy_D
March 8, 2008, 07:43 AM
Something to consider, as sm points out occasionally, is that you can't "stay up" at all times. If your mentality is 100% alert constantly, you're going to be exhausted shortly. Convoys can run for days, and the only appointment disaster has to keep is "the worst possible moment".

So, +1 for cans.

MD_Willington
March 8, 2008, 10:52 AM
Slow news day..

In other news, unless it is obstructed, or it is night time the sky is Blue...

Love this quote too:

"Given today's fearsome weaponry, even the best hearing protection is only partly effective and only if it's properly used."

LOL.. yeah every new generation of weapons gets louder...

:rolleyes:

Pat-inCO
March 8, 2008, 11:06 AM
While I'm sorry the troops are ending up with hearing problems, it's a case of well DUH! Every military person that has been in fire-fight in the last one hundred years (and probably before that) has experienced some hearing loss. Unfortunate, but a fact of war. :rolleyes:

Perhaps now, with all of the bleeding heart liberals in congress, we can get additional development of hearing protection that will at least lessen the problem. The technology exists, but is far too expensive for most of us. :banghead:

Imagine something that looks like an in-the-ear hearing aid that allows you to hear normally, until the bang. it then functions like the Peltor Tac-7s. Those "hearing aid types" do exist now. The problem is they are about $800 per pair. With the war, the cost could be reduced to $200 per pair. I'll buy a pair for $200. :D

walking arsenal
March 8, 2008, 11:44 AM
Don't suppressors need subsonic ammo to function or are there hyper sonic capable suppressors now?

Living in a state were they are illegal I don't keep up with that much.

Harley Quinn
March 8, 2008, 01:07 PM
However, it's very hard to wear hearing protection all the time.

My son was in the Artillery for 4 years and he has great hearing (mine is bad) he has inherited his Moms hearing. He said that he was always ribbed by others for being so diligent with wearing hearing protectors. All the time without fail it was an obsession with him, mentions how lax most are with that effort to protect the hearing and the Sgts are just as bad if not worse. I think it has gotten better, but it has along way to go it appears.

When he made Sgt he was always telling his men to wear the protection, irritated a few for sure. But he said it was a total commitment 24/7. Paid off for him, great hearing and he is in his 40's...

HQ

Chindo18Z
March 8, 2008, 01:14 PM
Tools of a tool:

I wore these Peltors last trip to Iraq:

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/Chindo18Z/Peltors2.jpg

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/Chindo18Z/PeltorManual2.jpg

They fit under my ACH with no problem:

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/Chindo18Z/HelmetPeltors.jpg

They simultaneously protect my hearing and allow discrete comms with this:

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/Chindo18Z/Radio.jpg

I wear these North Sonic IIs under the Peltor muffs for additional noise reduction(about $9.00 at Cabelas):

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/Chindo18Z/SonicIIShootersEarplugs.jpg

I've suffered high frequency hearing loss over the years (age, aircraft, weapons firing, explosions, rock music, nagging) and always wear these plugs under shooting earmuffs at any range. They've been around since at least the early 1980s. I bought my first pair 1982 and still use them today. Sonic IIs are also available with custom fit ear plug bodies to go over the flutter valve (which looks like a small cylindrical silver battery). When you need something unobtrusive which allows normal hearing but protects against shockwave decibels (e.g., gunshot report), these plugs are pretty damn useful to anyone who shoots or is around loud music.

As the OP's originally referenced article pointed out, every single American servicemember sent overseas is fitted for and issued a newer model of earplug. I can't recall seeing anyone outside the wire who didn't use them or some substitute (like mine). Most Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Coasties, and Airmen are not stuck on stupid. They can anticipate the pain of IED ruptured eardrums; they kit themselves out accordingly.

Even in the States, troops have been issued these (or the newer versions) for years and are generally required to have secured to their blouse or LBV for all training:

http://i82.photobucket.com/albums/j245/Chindo18Z/ear-plugs-group.jpg

The military (as an organization) views its "tools" as a significant investment and spends an absolutely extraordinary amount of money (compared to any other force on earth) in order to protect our sons & daughters. This includes their hearing. Soldiers cost ungodly amounts of money to train, equip, and employ. Deaf Soldiers are less useful. Protecting their hearing is a combination of altruism AND hard economic reality.

We are issued hearing protection, train with it, enforce its use, and screen servicemembers with required annual hearing exams. The digital results are part of a medical database used to monitor every single Servicemember over the course of their career (long or short) and detect trends/solutions for the force as a whole. Additionally, everyones' hearing is tested both before and immediately after each combat deployment (further tracking baseline hearing loss data).

The days of sticking something handy in your ear are long gone...as they should be. I used to gun mortars with a cigg butt or foam plug in one ear and a finger in the other (in order to be able hear the Fire Direction Computer's shouted commands) :uhoh: .

Does everything work all the time? Of course not. Life is dangerous and (ultimately) nobody gets out alive.

Some folks are idiots and simply fail to utilize protective measures already provided. "Ooooh...my body armor plates are tooo heavy". "Ooooh, my earplugs are uncomfortable and I can't hear my IPOD...". Darwinism at work...deaf or dead.

Should American taxpayers foot the bill for deteriorated health (including hearing loss) after a lifetime of service or service connected wounds? Damn straight. (BTW: All Servicemembers pay taxes and social health care entitlements). Those who complain about the cost are doing so on an internet, powered by abundant and reliable electricity, from the safety of their home or office, in front of maintained streets, leading to stocked supermarket shelves, with an audiologist just an appointment phone call away.

Every bit of that secure existence is bought and paid for in perpetuity by the blood of military members. It always has been. If you and I have to pay for my hearing loss when I retire...tough...that's the social contract. Otherwise we can all just flip the lights permanently off and begin eating our neighbors while waiting for the next wave of barbarians to surge through the gates. Think it can't happen here? Guess again. Get out and see the rest of the world. You'd be shocked at how cheap human existence is held across most of Planet Earth.

BTW: The Peltors I'm issued are pretty spendy and I wish to thank both myself and Walking Arsenal for our tax contributions to my auditory health.

Enough said on that. I apologize, its a sore spot with me, and it was a bit of a knee jerk reaction. ;)

hso
March 8, 2008, 02:00 PM
C18Z,

No need to apologize. You hit it square on the head. Hearing loss has been the most expensive disability to the military for a long time because of the large number of servicmembers that suffer from it. Extensive research on hearing protection is funded by the military to reduce the threat of hearing damage to it's personnel to make those troops both more effective in the field and to reduce disability payments paid for permanent hearing loss.

********************************************

active noise canceling technology

Doesn't work for gunfire or explosions or other "impact" noise. It does work on machine noise that would be encountered in aircraft, ships, tanks/vehicles and in industrial settings where the noise spectrum is constant.

*******************************************

The non-union 40,000 employee company I work for requires the use of hearing protection when noise levels exceed 90 dBA and provides it free of charge to employees. The non-union indoor range with less than a dozen employees I go to requires their employees to use hearing protection whenever they're going onto the range (even for just a second). Responsible adults protect their hearing, but OSHA requires the employer to evaluate noise levels and provide hearing protection for employees exposed to noise levels above 90 dBA for more than 8 hrs a day. OSHA does not cover military, or other government, "employees".

*******************************************

I use Surefire EP4 plugs under electronic muffs. I was skeptical of the claims of variable noise blockage until I put them in. I sure believe it now. Add my Peltors on top of them and I can carry on a normal conversation until the gunfire starts.

rcmodel
March 8, 2008, 02:13 PM
A great many of us had damage dating back to 1965 and beyond.+1 on that!
I have had ringing ears since training to use 106mm recoilless rifles & 4.2" morters in AIT in 1964!

Was told at an Army Physical in 1966 that my hearing was so bad I couldn't join the Army if I wasn't already in it!

We never heard of GI issue ear plugs, and the Range NCO's would have kicked our butts if we had tried to bring our own!

I've came off a heavy weapons range more then once with my ears bleeding!

I was still using .38 Special ammo or cigarette butts for ear plugs when I shot on the Ft. Carson pistol team in 1967!

Finally was issued real rubber GI ear-plugs and AO ear-muffs when I went to 5th. Army AMTU Rifle & Pistol team in 68.

And no, I've never drawn a dime of disability!

rcmodel

Soybomb
March 8, 2008, 02:39 PM
I think the troops need to quite their whining.

Others were not given earplugs or did not take them along when they were sent into the war zone. And some Marines weren't told how to use their specialized earplugs and inserted them incorrectly.

I think thats a terrible attitude. We get outraged at the idea that our soldiers don't have the best body armor or aren't receiving proper instructions in the care and upkeep of their rifles. They need all have sufficient hearing protection and the training on how to properly use it as well.

Harley Quinn
March 8, 2008, 03:18 PM
I was still using .38 Special ammo or cigarette butts for ear plugs when I shot in 1967!

Yep done that:uhoh:

Floppy_D
March 8, 2008, 04:18 PM
Good thing I wasn't around back then, my ears are .40 cal. :D

Buck Nekkid
March 8, 2008, 04:37 PM
I've suffered from tinnitus for more than 20 years, mostly the result of competitive trap shooting. I always have a buzzing in the left ear and about half the time in the right.

I've done the research. There is NO CURE for tinnitus. At least not now. I've joined the American Tinnitus Association to keep up with the changing science and technology. I recommend that if you or a compadre has tinnitus that you check out the ATA. It's a non profit research organization that is finding solutions to this really dibilitating condition. Here's their website: ATA (http://www.ata.org/)

Tyris
March 8, 2008, 04:45 PM
Of course there is still the crew served weapons and 249s that cannot be suppressed.

Why not? A sturdy silencer made of steel and inconel can take the abuse that a belt fed dishes out.

As for the supersonic crack, its only 1 component of the noise. The initial concussion of a lead cork being popped at 50k PSI can be remedied by a silencer.

There is a *huge* difference between a 223 with no silencer and a 223 with a silencer.

-T

silverlance
March 8, 2008, 05:11 PM
CZ and HSO, thank you for the product recommendations. I have set aside my firearm purchasing in favor of armor. hearing protection falls under armor for me. I looked up both mentioned products:

Peltor MT15H69FB: http://www.talonarms.com/talonarms/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=401 - list price is $280. Perhaps I might set up a group buy for these, if they are as good as CZ says they are. CZ, please let me know what those other products are. In a real SHTF scenario, I want my fire team to be equipped as best as possible. $280 per member, a total cost of $1500 all five, isn't all that much. The way I see it I'd rather spend money on protective equipment I might never actually use rather than yet another rifle or handgun.

Surefire EP4: I can't find EP4, but I found the EP3. It's $10. http://www.surefire.com/maxexp/main/co_disp/displ/carfnbr/376/sesent/00

leadcounsel
March 8, 2008, 05:35 PM
Quality electronic earmuffs would probably solve much of this problem. I have a pair that I bought for about $60.

They immediately dampen loud noises and allow in speach and softer noises. Most of you know what I'm talking about.

This would significantly save tax payers money in the short and long run, increase troop morale, and most importantly save many troops their hearing.

I'm packing for deployment right now and this just reminded me to throw in my Peltor electronic earmuffs. I just tried them on under my ACH (helmet) and they fit perfectly; actually make the helmet fit better.

Firethorn
March 8, 2008, 05:37 PM
Not being trained to use the IPE they're issued is stupid. At the very least the gear should come with an instruction manual.

Of course, I'm also to the point of thinking that we might want to look at almost a motorcycle helmet - complete with integrated active hearing protection/enhancement - IE it provides a substantial DB supression natively, while the active part amplifies quiet sounds while shifting to suppression for the louder noises.

Integrate the electronics into the helmet so soldiers are more likely to use them, as well as provide additional protection.

Ragnar Danneskjold
March 8, 2008, 11:16 PM
Every soldier overseas now has been trained in the use of their issued ear pro. Whether they forget how or choose to ignore them is their and their NCO's problem.

jrfoxx
March 9, 2008, 01:09 AM
Another real problem to remember, that most people never think about, or even know about (I had no idea), and one thats certainly not limited to the military, is the damage caused by exposure to constant noise of the same (relatively low) volume and frequency. I'm referring to backgroud noise that no one would think is near loud enough to cause any problems at all.The trouble is, thats true, the volume isnt the problem, its the constant exposure to the same fequency.I found this out the hard way from my 5 years in the Navy.The constant exposue to jet engines on the flightline/flightdeck nearby, but being in a hanger or shop where it doesnt seem loud at all, and hearing protecion is not required, and the constant drone of the equipment in my shop(AIMD), has caused me to have noticeble hearing loss. Mostly it just consists of having difficulty understanding what people are saying and distinguishing the words being spoken, as opposed to what one would normally think of as hearing loss.So,for your own sake, be aware oft his problem if you work around machinery that is constantly droning in the background, and are around it all day, every day, even if it doesn't seem loud at all, and just seems like mild background noise.WEAR HEARING PROTECTION anyways, (as long as safety and rules allow, obviously) Dont get surprised like I did.

I never had any problems being able to hear in general as well as ever, per se, so I had no idea I was causing damage, until I started to notice that although I could hear sounds and conversation as well as always, I was having trouble clearly making out the exact words being said.I routinely have to decipher what people are saying, as a lot of times what I think I heard them say, obviously isnt what they said, and I know it, so I have to figure out based on the sound of the words I misunderstood, what words it was they were actually saying.Because of this, I now receive 10% disability from the VA. I have honestly never been particularly comfortable taking, as I feel there are mlitary people with genuine, serious disabilities and wounds who deserve it, not me, but I wasnt really given much choice, as my command figured out the hearing loss during routine screening, and I was actually ORDERED to fill out the VA papers and submit my records prior to being allowed to be dischared. Oh well, I use the little bit of money I get from it to donate to veteran's organizaions, and to pay my membrship in the American Legion, and Disabled American Veterans (as membership dues help fund thier programs), which I feel are very worthy causes, and aleviate my guilty feelings.

As a funny side note though, I will say it can kind of make life a bit humourous, as my misunderstning of what people say sometimes ends up with them sonding like they said some SERIOUSLY funny stuff, so I guess at least I get to laugh at it a little. Case in point, during my specialized hearing testing for this with the VA, the audiologist puts me in a both, and reads words off a list, and I was to repeat what I thought the word was.Well, this woman has anti-Iraq war propoganda ALL OVER her office, and had told me to tell her what words I thought I heard NO MATTER what, even if I knew what I heard was obviously wrong. Well, I have no idea what word she actualy said, but the word I heard, and had to reapeat to the woman who had ranted about the military, government, and war on terror to me, was the most hated word by females, that rhymes wth "bunt" :D. The look on her face was kinda priceless, and hey, she said to repeat what I heard, adn I swear, that's what I heard, so., I just did what I was told....:D

Harley Quinn
March 9, 2008, 02:30 PM
Tinnitus is the result of that noise and some mention caffine makes it worse.

http://www.entnet.org/healthinfo/hearing/tinnitus.cfm

I suffer from it as others have mentioned also. The above article/link is a good one.

:scrutiny:

rcmodel
March 9, 2008, 03:30 PM
I got to wonder how much hearing damage these young GI's got from having an I-Pod blasting Hip-Hop in thier ears from 10 years age on up!

rcmodel

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