On Friday, the United States House of Representative passed the $733 billion National Defense Authorization Act. Included in the defense spending bill is a hearing protection measure that directs the Department of Defense to submit a report to the House Committee on Armed Services on current hearing protection measures in use during combat training and the effectiveness of these devices.
"The United States has the greatest military in the world, both in terms of our national arsenal and manpower," said Congressman Tony Cárdenas. "We spend more on our national defense than any other developed country, yet our service members do not have adequate protective hearing equipment when they are serving abroad or adequate medical devices when they return home. I am proud that my hearing protection measure for our troops was included in the final passage of the FY20 NDAA. We need to ensure that our men and women of the Armed Forces have all the tools and resources at their disposal to help ensure that their missions are carried out successfully, minimize mission risk, and transition back to civilian life when they return home. I am proud to have supported the passage of this year's defense authorization and I urge the Senate to do their job and pass this bill."
"In this era, where partisanship is the norm, the Democratic members of the Armed Services Committee have worked diligently to preserve our Committee's long-standing tradition of bipartisanship, and the FY20 NDAA is a reflection of that tradition," said House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith. "While this year's NDAA contains bipartisan provisions, our new Democratic majority has had an undeniable impact on the contents of this bill. Thanks to the leadership of Congressman Cárdenas and other members of our excellent caucus, the bill passed today reflects our Democratic values, supports our troops, and provides for a strong national defense enterprise."
The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness notes that despite the widespread availability of ear protection equipment across the Department of Defense, service members continue to experience hearing loss attributed to their military service. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, hearing loss and tinnitus are the top two service-connected disabilities among veterans. Nearly 75% of veterans suffering from tinnitus had anxiety disorder, while 60% had depression, and almost 60% had both conditions present. The VA is responsible for purchasing 20% of all hearing aids sold in the United States annually.