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IHS’ First Congressional Briefing – Operation: Fit to Serve

Rep Duffy at Podium #3 (10-27-2015).jpgOn October 27th, 2015, Rep. Sean Duffy, H.R. 353 Sponsor, and the International Hearing Society hosted a Congressional briefing on H.R. 353/S. 564 that took place in the U.S. Capitol.  With a packed room of Congressional staffers who focus on veterans’ issues, a strong agenda, and important message, the briefing was a huge success.  IHS Immediate Past President Tom Higgins, a Navy veteran himself, kicked off the meeting and then turned it over to Rep. Duffy, who delivered an inspirational appeal to staff in the room.  Attendees also heard from American heroes 1SG Eversmann and Cmdr. Kirk Lippold, U.S. Navy (Ret.), about the impact of battle and loud blasts on our servicemen’s and servicewomen’s hearing and the challenges they face as a result in their personal and professional lives.  IHS Government Affairs Director Alissa Parady provided the facts behind the backlog and reviewed the bill and its status.  Finally, representatives from AMVETS and American Legion spoke about the great need for this legislation, sharing their personal experiences with hearing loss and stories from members of their organizations.  At the conclusion of the event, attendees were pumped and engaged with the presenters – a true sign of a successful event!  Video clips of the briefing can be viewed via Fit to Serve's YouTube page.


U.S. Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Holds Hearing on S. 564

On September 16, 2015, the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee held a public hearing on S. 564, our Fit to Serve Senate bill, which is titled “the Veterans Hearing Aid Access and Assistance Act.”  This was a significant development that was the direct result of our efforts and the dedication of our Senate sponsors – and it happened despite strong opposition from the audiology organizations.  The hearing went well with several groups submitting comments in support, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, AMVETS, VetsFirst, and IHS, and for the first time since taking a position earlier in the month, American Legion was able to publicly offer oral testimony urging adoption of the bill.  Several members of the committee also spoke out in support of the legislation.  For more information about the hearing:


First Sergeant Matthew P. Eversmann, US Army (retired) Named National Spokesperson for “Fit to Serve” Campaign

Sgt. Eversmann, whose service was featured in “Black Hawk Down,” to raise awareness of the pressing need for improved hearing healthcare for America’s Veterans


EversmannMatt.jpgWASHINGTON, D.C. – September 19, 2013 - The International Hearing Society (IHS) today announced that First Sergeant Matthew P. Eversmann, US Army (retired), has been named National Spokesperson for “Fit to Serve” (, IHS’ grassroots campaign to improve the hearing healthcare system for America’s Veterans.  Eversmann’s service in Somalia was detailed in Mark Bowden’s 1999 book “Black Hawk Down.”  Eversmann was later portrayed by Josh Hartnett in the 2001 Oscar-winning motion picture based on the book.


“I am pleased to join Veterans and hearing advocates from across the country who believe, as I do, that men and women who served our nation have earned access to quality hearing healthcare services,” said Eversmann.  “Despite the hearing loss I sustained as a result of combat operations, serving in the United States Army was a tremendous honor, and I am proud to now have the opportunity to advocate for those who have sacrificed so much for our country.”


According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the two most prevalent service-related disabilities for Veterans are tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss.  The effect of hearing loss can be devastating to a Veteran, particularly as they adjust to a civilian lifestyle, and may contribute to depression, heightened stress, fatigue, and other challenges.  For many Veterans, a lack of proper hearing healthcare exacerbates these symptoms, leading to strained relationships and inability to maintain a career.


Despite the VA’s best efforts, the number of Veterans lacking adequate hearing healthcare services is quickly surpassing the VA’s ability to respond.  Veterans often face long wait times to get appointments, extensive travel to the nearest VA clinic and limited follow-up care.  Fit to Serve is working to lift existing restrictions in order to allow all qualified hearing aid specialists to, alongside the hearing professionals of the VA, provide hearing healthcare services to America’s Veterans.


“IHS is honored to have Sergeant Eversmann join our campaign for improved hearing healthcare for our nation’s
Veterans,” said Thomas Higgins, President of IHS and US Navy Veteran.  “His remarkable service to America, and the hearing loss he has experienced as a result of combat make him an ideal advocate for Veterans everywhere.”

 Sponsored by International Hearing Society, Livonia, Michigan
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