We saw a press release pass through our email box last week and thought our readers would enjoy learning more about how our troops are working to protect them hearing. Did you know that hearing loss is now the second most common battlefield injury, surpassed only by blast trauma? Between 2001 and 2008, 6,300 Marines suffered hearing loss or related injuries, according to a January report by the Government Accountability Office. With the report of these numbers, the Marines are on the hunt for improved ear plugs that will save Marines’ hearing while helping them maintain situational awareness.
They are currently in production with a few companies to create new hearing protection that will allow quiet sounds through while blocking those that can do damage, such as rifle fire and bomb blasts.
“Current ear plugs and over the ear muffs block both loud sounds and the sound of normal speech. As a result, they are not worn when needed, or are worn in a manner that permits normal verbal communication but that makes the devices ineffective for hearing protection,” Marine officials said in their request.
U.S. troops deployed to war with standard-issue hearing protection for the first time in 2003, but since then many have refused to wear it because they are afraid they may miss subtle sounds that may mean the difference between life and death.
We look forward to hearing the progress made in the development of this new protection, with the hope that many more troops will grab hold of the devices to help protect their hearing.