Hearing Health Foundation Launches Public Service Campaign Featuring Iraq Veteran and Others on the Prevalence of Hearing Loss

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-- Research Underway to Find a Biologic Cure --

Specialist Rebecca Nava talks about her hearing loss.

I suffered hearing loss serving my country as an army specialist in Iraq.

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Today Hearing Health Foundation announced its long term initiative to raise awareness and funds for hearing and balance research through a public service advertising campaign featuring real people who suffer a hearing loss. Johns Hopkins reports that nearly 50 million Americans suffer a hearing loss. That number is expected to double in 20 years. Hearing loss affects a growing number of teens and 60 percent of returning military from Iraq and Afghanistan, who acquire hearing loss or tinnitus due to noise exposure during service.

The campaign launches at a time when the nation’s attention is focused on the service of military veterans (May 19 Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day Weekend) whose lives are forever altered by the visible and invisible wounds of war. “I suffered hearing loss serving my country as an army specialist in Iraq. The damage I suffered in combat is making it even harder to fit back in as a civilian,” said Specialist Rebecca Nava.

Other personal stories featured in the campaign include Katherine Simpson, “I started to lose my hearing in college. Social situations became awkward. And even though I had no reason to be embarrassed, it was hard for me to tell my friends.” Sean and Samantha Brownlie, who are 9 and 7 respectively, noted, “Hearing aids have helped me and my sister for most of our lives, but they’re not a solution for everyone with hearing loss.”

The public service advertising campaign includes television and radio spots of real people sharing their experience living with this unwanted change in their lives and their hope for a cure. Hearing Health Foundation funds a research consortium, The Hearing Restoration Project, with the goal of finding a biologic cure for hearing loss within the next decide through cell regeneration therapies. The campaign calls for people to learn more about the issue and the search for a cure by visiting http://www.hearinghealthfoundation.org.

“Hearing Health Foundation has long been at the forefront of hearing and balance research, and we understand that it is important to invest in the next wave of hearing treatments,” said Andrea Boidman, Executive Director of Hearing Health Foundation. “Hearing research is important to the future of a growing number of people, and they need to know that there are new treatments on the horizon that could really impact their lives.”

Lt. Col. Mark Packer, MD., Executive Director for US Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE) understands what new treatments could mean for returning combat veterans. “In the military, hearing is critical for the instruction, teamwork and reporting that are necessary for mission accomplishment. Hearing loss is truly a hidden disability and our aim is to address significant gaps in the military’s ability to prevent or mitigate and then treat this type of injury.” The HCE is partnering with the Veterans Health Administration, Hearing Health Foundation and others to address this issue.

The campaign is timed with May’s Better Hearing and Speech Month and includes a new website community for consumers who are living with hearing loss to access helpful resources and information. Hearing Health Foundation publishes Hearing Health Magazine, and award-winning publication that is free to those who subscribe. View the campaign here.

About Hearing Health Foundation
Hearing Health Foundation is the largest private funder of hearing research, with a mission to prevent and cure hearing loss through groundbreaking research. Since 1958 Hearing Health Foundation has given over $26.6 million to hearing and balance research, including work that led to cochlear implant technology. In 2011 Hearing Health Foundation launched the Hearing Restoration Project (HRP), a consortium of scientists working on cell regeneration in the ear. HRP's goal is a biologic cure for most types of acquired hearing loss within the next ten years. Hearing Health Foundation also publishes Hearing Health magazine, a free consumer resource on hearing loss and related technology, research, and products. To learn more or support this work, visit http://www.hearinghealthfoundation.org.

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