Three of Scotland’s leading charities have combined forces to raise awareness among Scotland’s veterans of the need to act swiftly if they are having problems with their hearing or vision.
Scotland’s Veterans Commissioner has welcomed the collaboration by Age Scotland, Action on Hearing Loss Scotland and Scottish War Blinded to produce the new Combating Sight and Hearing Loss guide which advises veterans losing their sight or hearing where they can get help and support.
Veterans who were exposed to loud noise from small arms fire, artillery, engines, other machinery or explosives are at particular risk of developing hearing loss. Research has also found links between sight loss and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
With veterans at greater risk of developing sensory impairment, the charities are calling for screening for veterans to identify early those who are losing their hearing. They are also urging that people are asked if they have served in the forces when they are registering for a Certificate for Vision Impairment so that veterans be signposted to the right support.
Action on Hearing Loss Scotland’s Hearing Forces project, Age Scotland and Scottish War Blinded are members of Unforgotten Forces which is a partnership of 15 leading organisations, led by Poppyscotland, delivering enhanced services for older veterans.
Veterans Commissioner, Charlie Wallace, said: "As one gets older, so it becomes more challenging to keep abreast of changes and feel comfortable as one's own needs change. This practical guide for older veterans who are living with sensory loss, primarily sight and hearing, details in clear concise language the advice and support available."
Teri Devine, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Scotland, said: "People on average take up to 10 years before getting their hearing tested from the point they first notice hearing difficulties. Through our Hearing Forces service, we aim to inform and support older veterans to benefit from using hearing aids, which are most effective when fitted as soon as hearing loss is diagnosed.
As the Scottish Government recognises the need for 'early diagnosis and intervention' assisted by screening in its See Hear sensory impairment strategy, we want older veterans to be screened for hearing loss so they can access the person-centred support they need to reduce the impact of deafness in their everyday lives."
Rebecca Barr, Director of Scottish War Blinded, said: "It is vital that veterans who are concerned about their sight have it checked as soon as possible, so that they can access the support available to them. We support over a thousand veterans with sight loss across Scotland, helping them develop skills to live independently and providing a network of support and activities which helps prevent them from becoming isolated."
To get a free copy of Unforgotten Forces’s Combating Sight and Hearing Loss guide, call telephone: 0800 12 44 222 or download from www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/Combat
Notes to Editors