On July 19, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez introduced H.R. 3866 which asks to amend Title 38 to include giving veterans suffering from tinnitus or hearing loss medical care through the Veterans Administration (VA).
A 2017 Department of Veterans Affairs report found hearing loss and tinnitus to be among the most prevalent service-connected injuries. Since these ailments often develop five, ten, or fifteen years after service, VA rules requiring documented proof that injuries were obtained in the line of duty can create hurdles for veterans seeking assistance. Velázquez’s Hear Our Heroes Act of 2019 would eliminate burdensome documentation requirements for veterans seeking medical treatment for hearing problems. It will also allow healthcare providers who treat veterans for hearing ailments to receive compensation from the VA.
“Supporting our veterans requires more than lip service. It means ensuring they can access the benefits they deserve, whether it is when they return immediately from abroad or later in life,” said Rep. Velázquez. “We cannot make up for the physical and emotional wounds sustained during combat, but we can fill this devastating coverage gap in our medical care system.”
“The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to support the Hear our Heroes Act of 2019, which would ensure that veterans exposed to acoustic trauma receive the benefits they have earned and deserve,” said Carlos Fuentes, the director of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. National Legislative Service. “Veterans who serve in combat are exposed to high levels of acoustic trauma. When they return home, however, VA often challenges whether their hearing loss or tinnitus is related to their military service. Thus, veterans are often left to bear the cost burden of caring for wounds they sustained in combat or forgoing care all together.”
This bill has been co-sponsored by six of Velázquez’s colleagues. It has been referred to the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee