Every year, thousands of men and women around the world join the armed forces to serve their countries. However, many end up with hearing loss, which is one of the most common occupational injuries among military personnel. This article will explore why so many people in the armed forces suffer from hearing loss, and why people are no longer signing up to serve in the UK.
First, let’s focus on hearing loss in the armed forces. There are many reasons why noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a common issue for service personnel. One significant contributor is exposure to loud noises and explosions, especially for those serving in combat zones. The ear is not designed to withstand constant exposure to such loud noises, causing permanent damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear, resulting in severe hearing loss.
Another reason for hearing loss is the constant use of firearms. Military personnel are required to regularly engage in firearms training and shooting, which, over time, gradually damages their hearing. Despite military personnel being instructed to use ear protection when firing weapons or working with loud machinery, these warnings are not always heeded, increasing the risk for NIHL.
Furthermore, military service is, by nature, a noisy environment, which can lead to hearing loss over an extended period. Exposure to the constant noise levels of military machinery, vehicles, and airplanes gradually damages the ear’s sensory cells, leading to permanent hearing loss.
Now let’s consider why people are no longer signing up to serve in the UK. Recruitment for the armed forces in the UK has suffered a significant decline in recent years. According to a 2020 report by the UK Ministry of Defence, there is a significant shortfall in recruitment targets across various branches of the armed forces. The number of people applying to join the military has declined by 30% since 2016.
One of the reasons for this is the diminishing public interest and support for military engagement in war zones. The UK’s many military interventions, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, have attracted severe public scrutiny and widespread negative sentiment. The younger generation, in particular, is wary of joining the armed forces to take part in potential conflicts.
The increasing public awareness of the potential physical and mental health risks associated with military service is another factor that must be taken into account. An alarming number of soldiers returning from combat zones experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological afflictions, making joining the military a hazardous undertaking.
In conclusion, it is evident that hearing loss is a major issue for those in the armed forces, with NIHL playing a significant role. Military personnel become more and more exposed to loud noises such as gunfire, explosions and machinery sound which can irreversibly damage their hearing. Also, fewer people have been joining to serve in the UK because of heightened concerns over mental and physical health risks along with an overall decrease in public interest regarding military activity.