Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Freddie Hall, officially launched the project at Lagan Valley Island Centre in Lisburn. Other speakers included Brian Maguire, Area Manager at the Royal British Legion and representatives from Action on Hearing Loss.
Hearing loss is a common health issue in the Armed Forces; caused by repeated exposure to loud noise from small arms fire, artillery, engines and other machinery, and explosions. The 2014 Lost Voices report, collated by the Royal British Legion with support from Action on Hearing Loss, found that Veterans under the age of 75 are around three and a half times more likely to experience hearing loss than the general population. Many Veterans also experience tinnitus - hearing sounds in the ears or head with no external source, often described as ringing.
The project aims to support 200 Veterans in Northern Ireland by April 2018 and a further 660 by April 2019. Our Aged Veterans Project Worker Mark Ewing has been out and about giving talks to community groups, performing basic hearing checks, providing information about hearing loss and signposting Veterans to Action on Hearing Loss services and other sources of support.
Mark said: “Hearing loss can lead to difficulties in communication, social isolation, depression and anxiety - which is experienced even more keenly by the Veteran community. I am delighted to be able to support this community and to work in collaboration with other Veteran organisations such as the Royal British Legion. Thank you to Freddie Hall, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, who launched our project today. Thanks also to all the Veteran organisations who attended the event this morning.”
For more information about our Aged Veterans Project, or to make a referral, call 028 9023 9619/ 07990 441824 or email: OutreachSupport.NI@hearingloss.org.uk