August 29, 2023

3M settled its combat earplug lawsuit for $6 billion – but don’t get too excited

Source: Task and Purpose

Journalist: Jeff Schogol

Hearing problems are common among U.S. troops who served in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other Global War on Terrorism battlefields in part because of their exposure to blasts from roadside bombs, said Taren Sylvester, who researches military and veterans issues for the Center for a New American Security think tank in Washington, D.C.

“The explosions were much, much closer than they might have been in previous wars, and the rate of surviving these blast impacts is higher than in previous wars,” Sylvester told Task & Purpose. “So, you’re having people who are having both a greater exposure and a greater survivability, which in turn means that they are dealing with more issues longer term.”

Blasts from improvised explosive devices are also linked to the higher rates of Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI, among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, Sylvester said. TBI can make auditory processing more difficult.

Another reason why Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are facing hearing issues is that many of the battles in the earlier years of the Global War on Terrorism took place in urban environments, Sylvester said.

“In urban warfare, the sound can be amplified, just by the closeness of the buildings and make communications more difficult and audio processing more difficult than it would be in an open field situation,” Sylvester said.

As time goes on, Sylvester said, Global War on Terrorism veterans may develop hearing problems at higher rates than veterans of past wars.

Read the full story and more from Task & Purpose.


  • Taren Sylvester

    Research Assistant, Military, Veterans, & Society Program

    Taren Sylvester is the Research Assistant for the Military, Veterans, & Society Program at CNAS. Their research interests include issues of civil-military relations, socie...