Army Veteran Rebecca Nava sometimes has trouble hearing her daughter. Nava was often exposed to loud noises during her tour in Iraq, such as weapons and sirens going off close to her. The noises left her with hearing loss and tinnitus - a ringing in her ears.
Sixty-percent of those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have damaged hearing. Lieutenant Colonel Mark Packer is with the U.S. Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence. He says, "the total number over the decade for the current conflicts are 840,000 members with tinnitus and just over 700,000 with hearing loss, which are the number one and 2 disabilities."
Experts say training to prevent hearing problems needs to start as soon as a person enters the military. But ear protection can be inconvenient in combat, and some noises are so loud that protection won't help.
"We have army, navy, air force programs that are looking at developing the policies, identifying the best standards to best prevent hearing loss," Lt. Col. Packer adds.
Nava is now studying business administration. She wears hearing aids, but she still struggles. She hopes other veterans listen to her story and get help for their hearing like she did.
A study requested by Congress, found widespread hearing loss after World War Two, as well. But the explosions and gun battles in tight spaces and urban areas have made Iraq a noisier war than most.