Captioned phones

A national program, now available in Waseca County, helps address the problem and enable veterans with hearing loss establish an easier and more reliable connection to those they want to speak with. (Image courtesy of Heroes with Hearing Loss)

As Waseca County’s veteran services officer, it’s easy for Dennis Dinneen to see the impact of hearing loss on area veterans.

“One of the things we’ve heard is that it can be hard to talk on the phone,” said Dinneen. “For a family member who lives on the other side of the country, it can be difficult.”

A national program has been rolled out to address the problem and enable veterans to establish an easier and more reliable connection to those they want to speak with.

Heroes with Hearing Loss, now available in Waseca County, offers resources for veterans with hearing problems, including providing captioned phones at no cost so that veterans can have conversations over the phone much more easily.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing loss is “a growing complaint for today’s veterans because of their history of noise exposure, coupled with aging of many veterans.” In 2011, the department reported hearing loss related treatment for 1.5 million servicemen and women.

“In working with veterans, I can certainly see problems from both hearing loss and tinnitus,” said Dinneen, referring to a common symptom of hearing loss which is often reported as ringing in the ears.

Dinneen says that veterans afflicted with this problem need attention, as care and assistance are the only ways to help with hearing loss.

“Of course, there’s no cure, though there’s been a lot of research,” he said. “And it only gets worse over time. The only thing that can be done for them is to give them hearing aids. Those have come a long way, but they’re never really perfect.”

One of the ways in which they’re not perfect is that veterans still have trouble hearing in phone conversations.

The Hearing Loss for Heroes website underlines the importance of giving this problem its due attention.

“Often overshadowed by the other challenges our servicemen and women face, hearing loss is nevertheless intertwined both physically and emotionally — as a trigger, a constant reminder or an every day frustration. It is a very unique and personal challenge for many veterans,” the website says.

The phones offered through the program, Dinneen says, are an efficient way of helping veterans overcome this physical and emotional obstacle.

“This (program) is a way to connect and enjoy those social activities,” Dinneen said.

Anyone interested in receiving a phone can fill out the application in the Veteran Services Office, located at the Waseca County Courthouse. The Veteran Services Office can be reached at 507-835-0680.

Hearing loss is a growing complaint for today’s Veterans because of their history of noise exposure, coupled with aging of many Veterans. — See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/vethealthinitiative/hearing_impairment.asp#sthash.RdbvkUH6.dpuf

Hearing loss is a growing complaint for today’s Veterans because of their history of noise exposure, coupled with aging of many Veterans. — See more at: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/vethealthinitiative/hearing_impairment.asp#sthash.RdbvkUH6.dpuf.

Reporter Jacob Stark can be reached at 837-5451 or follow him on Twitter @WCNjacob.

Covering Waseca, Janesville, and New Richland.

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