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Veterans report severe hearing damage due to earplugs

Military members risk their lives when they start their job every morning. They rely on the proper equipment to keep them safe and ensure they make it home at the end of the day. Unfortunately, it does not always happen.

According to a report from the Department of Veterans Affairs, more than a million veterans suffer from hearing loss with an additional 1.5 million service members diagnosed with tinnitus. Hearing impairments continue to grow among military members and are one of the most prevalent service-connected injuries.

While servicemen work in loud and potentially hazardous conditions, many veterans experienced additional damage to their hearing due to a defective design in 3M's Combat Arms earplugs. Military.com reported the earplugs would loosen over time and permit damaging sounds to enter the ear canal.

Moldex-Metric, Inc., a 3M competitor, filed a lawsuit against 3M and Aearo Technologies under the False Claims Act, which permits private parties to sue on behalf of the government in cases of fraud. Moldex-Metric received $1.9 million in mid-2018 during a settlement with 3M.

However, the defective product affected thousands of military members deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 to 2015. Many soldiers decided to file personal complaints in court against 3M. The most recent was Army Sergeant Scott Rowe, a veteran in Texas, who experience hearing damage while in combat due to the ineffective earplugs.

Rowe claimed his injuries affected balance and his sleep as well as his hearing. In his statement, hearing damage has a significant effect on his quality of life. "(I'm) never at peace," Rowe said.

Seeking solutions after hearing loss

There are thousands of active and discharged military personnel who are diagnosed with hearing loss or tinnitus due to the ineffective equipment. Luckily, veterans or active service members can seek compensation to cover for medical bills, treatments or hearing aids.

You have to show evidence of damage due to the Combat Arms earplugs and service during 2003 and 2015. If you meet this criterion and suffer from hearing impairments, look into a possible legal complaint.

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