Career Fields at Risk
All active duty military members have hearing-critical requirements related to safety, communication, teamwork, command and control, and basic military training, such as weapons qualifications. Deployment may stress auditory function further due to additional tolls on hearing through communication systems. However, basic hearing requirements are essential both in theater and at home.
Some military career fields include noise exposures that can be damaging and require attentive hearing conservation efforts. But good auditory function among ALL military members is an indispensable asset to their performance and communication. The Hearing Center of Excellence maintains that in all military occupations there is a basic level of critical hearing for safety and performance.
Some service-specific jobs require greater degrees of communication, which elevates hearing-critical needs. These job specialties can be significantly degraded if a service member’s hearing is impaired and they’re not able to communicate adequately.
Career fields that require acute and extended periods of listening and whose success is driven by hearing discrimination and communication are obviously at higher risk for degraded function due to hearing loss. Sadly, mishaps and injuries have occurred due to hearing loss and poor communication in some environments and career specialties.
Keep in mind that each military member’s experience is unique and the risk of noise is always present. Performing daily duties in hazardous noise can cause hearing stress. Accomplishing evasive and adaptive strategies with progressive hearing deficits can add difficulty to general duties of any specialty-coded position.
All military members are subject to hazardous noise and noise-induced hearing loss in deployed duties and environments. Service members can also be at risk when taking on duties as otherwise assigned, serving in joint or partnership positions, in transport, and even in self-induced exposures.
The bottom line is that hearing health awareness, periodic testing, and adequate hearing protection are important for ALL career fields.