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georgiapapa

Claim For Hearing Loss & Tinnitus

Question

Hi,

I served with a U.S. Marine Corps artillery unit in Viet Nam in 1967 and 1968 and was exposed to the daily firing of 105 and 155 howitzers. We were not provided with hearing protection when firing the howitzers. I was also exposed to the noise of exploding mortars when we received incoming fire. During my stateside tour of duty with the Marine Corps from 1966 to 1970, I was exposed to all types of weapons firing as are most Marines. When I was discharged from the Marine Corps, I was not given a hearing test as part of my exit physical. I knew shortly after my discharge from the Marine Corps that I had tinnitus and a hearing loss but I did not file a claim with the VA at that time because I was trying to get a job in law enforcement and I was worried this could keep me from getting the job.

I was employed with the U.S. Marshals Service from 1978 until my retirement in 2004. Fortunately when I was hired by the Marshals Service, I never received any type of stringent hearing tests. During my career with the U.S. Marshals, I never fired my weapon in the line of duty. However, we did qualify with our weapons once or twice a year. We always wore hearing protection during weapons qualifying.

In June 1981 I went to a local hearing doctor and had my hearing tested because my hearing was getting worse and tinnitus was driving me crazy. The doctor tested my hearing which showed I had a bilateral high frequency hearing loss which he said was noise induced. In his report, he noted my exposure to artillery fire in the Marine Corps. He also diagnosed me with tinnitus. The doctor suggested I use a white noise device to mask the tinnitus noise when sleeping. I purchased the device and have been using it ever since. The doctor I went to in 1981 has since died but I have a copy of his report and the audiologist who performed the hearing test is now a doctor and has started her own practice. My hearing has gotten worse over the years so I plan to make an appointment with the same audiologist to get a current report of my hearing. Since she will be aware of my earlier hearing test, I am hoping she will give me an IMO report stating my hearing loss and tinnitus were more than likely caused by my exposure to artillery and mortar fire in Vietnam.

Since so much time has passed and since I was employed with a law enforcement agency for a long period of time, I am concerned the VA will claim my hearing problems were caused by my age or my exposure to gun fire with the U.S. Marshals.

I have a photo of me firing a 105 howitzer in Vietnam. In the photo I was not wearing hearing protection. I also have a receipt from 1983 showing the purchase of one of my white noise devices used for masking tinnitus. My DD-214 and my other military records show my service in Vietnam and my assignment to an artillery unit and my MOS as a Field Artillery Batteryman.

I would like any input from other hadit members as to whether they think I would be successful in filing a claim for hearing loss and tinnitus at this late date and and with the knowledge I had worked for over 25 years in civilian law enforcement. I am currently receiving 10% VA disability for a shoulder injury I received in Vietnam in 1968 and I am in the process of filing a claim for Multiple Myeloma due to exposure to Agent Orange. Any input or suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks...

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There was a case in WW11 where one of the directors of the  Why We Fight series was just standing next to a 155 howitzer when it was fired and he lost his hearing completely.   He got back about 20% of his hearing after the war.  I remember being about 100 yards from where Arty guys were firing 105's and 155's  and it sounded like they were 20 feet away.  It was just loud!

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Thank you for your service. Others will chime in if I'm wrong, but here is my two cents. I think you can prove exposure to noise in service especially since you have combat exposure; the VA may concede that. They did with me for my tinnitis since I could prove I was in combat (Somalia). Tinnitis is rated 10% whether one ear or both. It will be difficult proving hearing loss since with the VA you have to be almost deaf to get it. You said you didn't have a hearing test when you separated; how about when you entered through MEPS, do you have a copy of that? If you can get a copy of that, it may be possible to draw a nexus with the help from your audiologist/doctor now. Hope this helps. Good luck.

/doc

Edited by navydoc2

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It's hard to say what your chances are. The problem is that there is no consistancy between RO's VAROs, C&P's and so forth. The only consistant thing seems to be the lack of consistancy.

You do have several things working for you and against you.

A major plus is combat operations, and if your records show that you were exposed to gunfire and explosions.

Civilian Law enforcement should not count too much against you, since hearing protectors are normally worn when practicing, etc.

What might really count against you is time and age. Normally, people (and dogs) suffer hearing loss due to age.

In my case, at 65, I can no longer hear high frequency sound. In my younger days, I could faintly hear the ultra sonic emitters used in burgler alarms.

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Hi Navy Doc,

Thanks for the input and thank you for your service. When I was discharged, the Marine Corps was discharging a large number of Vietnam veterans due to downsizing and our exit physical exams were short and quick. We were released a few months prior to our scheduled discharge date. In your reply you mentioned MEPS. What is MEPS?

Thanks... Georgia Papa

Thank you for your service. Others will chime in if I'm wrong, but here is my two cents. I think you can prove exposure to noise in service especially since you have combat exposure; the VA may concede that. They did with me for my tinnitis since I could prove I was in combat (Somalia). Tinnitis is rated 10% whether one ear or both. It will be difficult proving hearing loss since with the VA you have to be almost deaf to get it. You said you didn't have a hearing test when you separated; how about when you entered through MEPS, do you have a copy of that? If you can get a copy of that, it may be possible to draw a nexus with the help from your audiologist/doctor now. Hope this helps. Good luck.

/doc

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MEPS is the place where you went to get a physical, fill out all the paperwork, get sworn in to the military. I don't know if they had them in the 60's lol I was 5.

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