Thee is increasing evidence of an unforseen consequence for members of the military who are fighting in Iraq. Soldiers and Marines caught in rodside bombings and fiefights are coming home in epidemic numbers with permanent hearing loss and ringing in their ears. Hearing damage has now become the number one disability in the fight against terrorism. The Veterans Affairs administration and hearing experts say the true toll of this disability may require decades before final figures are in. Nearly 70,000 of the more than 1.3 million troops who have served in the two war zones are collecting dsability for tinnitus, a potential debilitating ringing in the ears and more than 58,000 are on disability for hearing loss.
Theresa Schulz, author of “Troops Return With Alarming Rates of Hearing Loss,” says “the numbers are staggering” for those returning with these problems. Blasts from roadside bombs cause violent changes in air pressure and can rupture the eardrum and break bones inside the ear. A common problem is refusal on the part of many soldiers to wear earplugs.
The loss of hearing is just one of the many unforseen consequences of an invasion that lack coherent planning for the safety of American fighting men and women. There was a rush to judgment by the Bush administration who never explored all potential consequences of a war and how it might physically impact those doing the fighting. Experts estimate 60% of those exposed to roadside blasts may suffer from permanent hearing loss. That cost is not listed in any budget for Iraq war expenses.