Among the health programs available to Soldiers and Families across the Marne Division, the Hearing Conservation Program has now added a new feature to the community. The Army Hearing Conservation Program assembled a hearing sound exhibit at building 419, across from the Furniture Store, Nov. 18.
"[The hearing sound exhibit] is here for the general public to make people aware of hearing-related issues such as tinnitus, which is a very common central hearing loss," said Maj. Kevin Hannah, Chief of Army Hearing Program at Fort Stewart. "It is a kiosk-style set-up designed that it is a touch-button kind of system."
The kiosk provides users the opportunity to test their hearing, learn how to protect their hearing, find out what hearing loss sounds like, discover how hearing works and learn about tinnitus - ringing in the ears.
According to the Command Policy Letter Number 11-3 regarding Hearing Conservation, hearing loss from noise exposure is the most common health problem at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield.
"Hearing loss is the number one issue for Soldiers coming back from deployment, in addition to tinnitus-related issues," Maj. Hannah said. "It is also the number one disability listed on the [Veteran Affairs] system for Soldiers who go through the VA system for medical care."
Only three hearing conservation kiosks have been made available in the continental United States. One is located at the VA in Portland, Ore. The other is located at Fort Lewis, Wash., and the third is located here at the home of the Third Infantry Division. The approximate cost of the exhibit is $150,000.
"It is designed for individuals to walk in, one at a time, and sit in front of the kiosk, gaining educational awareness about hearing," Maj. Hannah said. "In addition to getting their hearing tested, we have an outdoor module on the side that can be used to determine how much noise [they're] being exposed to.
A lot of times, people have no idea the level of intensity they are being exposed to from just a simple thing like a loud pop."
High frequency sounds that can affect hearing include mowing the lawn, loud music and live ammunition rounds.
Specialist Stephen Seefeld, MEDDAC, was the first to test the hearing exhibit. He said that he found it helpful.
"I enjoyed it. It gave me a lot of information that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to get just from talking with people," he said. "I didn't know that riding in the car with loud music could damage my hearing."
He said that interacting with the computer program made it more interesting to become informed about hearing loss. Any questions he thought he would have had were answered during the sit-in portion of the test, he said.
And, for one final tip, he said to "make sure you answer the questions accurately and honestly. It will tell you if you have to come in and get your hearing checked-out by the Army Hearing Program."
The hearing exhibit is open to the general public and completely free.
For more information, visit www.winn.amedd.army.mil/index.php/medicalservices/preventive/hearing-conservation-2/.