How to Help

DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM FOR DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING AMERICANS SERVING IN THE MILITARY

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The Demonstration Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Americans was inspired by U.S. leadership in recognizing the potentiality for deaf and hard of hearing Americans serving our country in the armed services.  Senator Tom Harkin (IA-D) and Congressman Mark Takano (CA-D) introduced S. 1864 and H.R. 5296 for a demonstration program for deaf and hard of hearing Americans to receive training to become officers in the United States Air Force.  S. 1864 and H.R. 5296 is a vital framework for creating legislation and policies around in the armed services that could save on force attrition, retention, and replacement.  Ultimately, the goal of the two bills is to raise awareness and garner support for the demonstration program to be marked up in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA 2016) which takes place next spring of 2015.

 

The legislation proposes a multi-year demonstration program to assess the feasibility and advisability of permitting individuals with auditory impairments to access as enlisted and officer members of the US armed forces.  Individuals chosen to participate in the demonstration program should meet all other appropriate and essential qualifications for accession.  To ensure the meaningfulness of program results, the legislation provides that: (1) not less than fifteen individuals should participate and those participating should include those deaf as well as those with a range of auditory impairments; (2) necessary auxiliary aids and services as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act should be provided; and (3) program participants undergo all training and assignments otherwise appropriate for that individual’s rank and service.

 

On June 14, 2012, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified on the topic of the demonstration program, I agree with you. And for that reason, I think we can try to set up a pilot program. … So you have my assurance, we’ll get something.”

 

Why should the U.S. armed services create a demonstration program for the deaf and hard of hearing?

 

Creation of the Demonstration Program offers opportunities to explore potential benefits for having deaf and hard of hearing Americans within the Armed Services ranks

 

Heightened Visual Integration Ability

  • Research has shown that deaf people are better able to use visual information.
  • The Department of Defense has already taken advantage of this ability in employing deaf individuals to analyze intelligence photos and video.
  • The demonstration will allow opportunities to further evaluate this ability for certain assignments and scenarios in various military occupational specialties such as working with visual displays of advanced detection systems like radar and sonar.sonar

 

 

 

 

 

Ability to Operate in High Noise Environments

  • The high noise environments our military are exposed to present two distinct problems: communication is severely degraded, even with noise suppressing headphones; and the physiological reaction, including the release of adrenaline, increased heart rate, and elevated stress indicators, can cause degraded decision-making and, in extreme cases, disorientation.
  • Deaf people who use sign language or cochlear implants would not experience the severely degraded communication and the physiological reaction to the high noise environment would not be an issue.
  • Sustained exposure to engine noise in a convoy can be just as damaging to hearing as exposure resulting from an improvised explosive device (IED).
  • At least a fourth of soldiers who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan show some hearing loss and even those who don’t deploy often are exposed to constant or concussive noises in their work or training that can cause hearing loss or tinnitus.HNE

 

 

 

 

 

Demonstration Program Increases The Pool for Propensity to Enlist

  • The potential accession of deaf or hearing impaired individuals will help increase the pool of candidates for recruitment at a time where the propensity to enlist has been slowly declining.

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Demonstration Program Offers Opportunities to Enhance Existing Technologies

  • Technologies include visual alarms, displayed visual messages, tactile belts, and gunshot-direction-finder. The demonstration program offers the opportunity to explore how these technological advancements can also benefit current military service men and women.

 

Rehabilitation of Wounded Warriors and Veterans    badge

  • Wounded warriors and veterans who are going through rehabilitation due to the loss of some or all hearing could benefit from the research and study of the demonstration program.
  • Hearing losses is the number one disability in the military today.
  • Current trends suggest that the incidence of tinnitus and hearing loss is increasing 13-18 percent annually.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) spent an estimated $1.39B in calculated compensation for major auditory disabilities in FY2010.

● In November 2013, the Hearing Center of Excellence under the Department of Defense was looking for a grant to do cochlear implant research on Active Duty Soldiers

 

Demonstration Program has Strong Support      DW

  • On June 14, 2012, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta testified before an Appropriations Committee that there should be a demonstration program
  • H.R. 5296 has four original cosponsors – Congressman Garamendi, Congresswoman Tsongas, Congressman Van Hollen, and Congressman Waxman.

● A broad coalition of over 18 U.S. disability and civil rights organizations support deaf and hard of hearing Americans to serve our country in uniform

 

OTHER FACTS TO CONSIDER

  • Eighty percent of the military occupations are noncombat – the demonstration program will allow us

to determine which specialties are best suited and how individuals can best operate in those specialties.

  • The Israel Defense Force (IDF) enlists deaf and hard of hearing volunteers within their ranks

● The military has denied enlistment to US Army ROTC Cadet Keith Nolan of California State University, Northridge; Ethan Lusted, graduate of the Citadel, South Carolina; US Army ROTC Cadet Ferdinand Bermudez of Honolulu Community College, Hawaii; and to an untold numbers of deaf and hard of hearing Americans who have tried to enlist over the years

 

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Sample Letter of Support

 

Date

Your Name

Your Address

Your City, State, Zipcode

Your E-mail

Your Phone Number

 

The Honorable_________________________

House of Representatives or United States Senate

Office Address of Representative or Senator

 

Dear Representative/Senator ____________________,

 

As Congress begins deliberations on fiscal year 2015 national defense programs, I respectfully request your support for Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa’s S.1864 bill and Congressman Mark Takano of California’s companion H.R. 5296 titled “A bill to require a demonstration program on the accession as Air Force officers of candidates with auditory impairments.”

 

This multi-year demonstration program is to assess the feasibility and advisability of permitting individuals with auditory impairments to access as enlisted and officer members of the US armed forces.  Individuals chosen to participate in the demonstration program should meet all other appropriate and essential qualifications for accession.  To ensure the meaningfulness of program results, I suggest that: (1) not less than fifteen individuals should participate and those participating should include those deaf as well as those with a range of auditory impairments; (2) necessary auxiliary aids and services as defined by the Americans With Disabilities Act should be provided; and (3) program participants undergo all training and assignments otherwise appropriate for that individual’s rank and service.

 

With a demonstration program, the US armed forces can study and assess the potentiality of individuals with auditory impairments for service in the US military.  Some of the benefits that would be anticipated from such a demonstration, include the following:

 

First, deaf people can offer their heightened visual integration ability.  Significant amounts of research have shown that deaf people are better able to use visual information.  The Department of Defense has already taken advantage of this ability in employing deaf individuals to analyze intelligence photos and video.  The demonstration would evaluate the reasonableness of assignment to those tasks as well as other military scenarios such as with visual displays of advanced detection systems like radar and sonar.

 

Second, deaf individuals have a tremendous ability to operate in high noise environments.  The high noise environments our military are exposed to present two distinct problems: communication is severely degraded, even with noise suppressing headphones; and the physiological reaction, including the release of adrenaline, increased heart rate, and elevated stress indicators, can cause degraded decision-making and, in extreme cases, disorientation.  Deaf people who use sign language or cochlear implants would not experience the severely degraded communication and the physiological reaction to the high noise environment would not be an issue.

 

Third, the potential accession of deaf or hearing impaired individuals will help increase the pool of candidates for recruitment at a time where the propensity to enlist has been slowly declining.

 

Fourth, the demonstration program could offer opportunities to enhance existing technologies such as visual alarms, displayed visual messages, and gunshot-direction-finder.

 

Lastly and equally important is that wounded warriors and veterans who are going through rehabilitation due to the loss of some or all hearing could benefit from the research and study of the program.

 

A demonstration program for the accession into the military services of deaf and hard of hearing members could help the military save on force attrition, retention, and replacement.  Thank you for considering my request.

 

 

Sincerely,

(Signature)

Your Name


 

 

 

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