Yesterday afternoon, AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley will take part in the House Invisibile Wounds Caucus roundtable discussion on tinnitus, a common invisible wound of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan most commonly associated with ringing in the ears.
Many veterans who have served in the conflict suffer from the condition which results from continued exposure to loud noises and stress such as explosions and gun shots. Today, tinnitus is the most common service-connected condition for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
During the roundtable, hosted by Reps. Harry Teague (D-N.M.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), experts pointed out the common misconception that tinnitus is an inner ear condition, but it is in fact a neurological condition that can be exacerbated by conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kelley, who personally has dealt with the condition, described his experiences with tinnitus and expressed frustration that though it is his lowest-rated service-connected condition, it is the only one for which he has no viable treatment option.
"There's no cure," Kelley said. "Tinnitus is my lowest rating, yet it is something that I have no relief from and no strategies to deal with."
Today, VA spends more on service-connected compensation for tinnitus than it invests in research on treating the condition. Kelley and the other veterans advocates who participated in the roundtable called on Congress and VA to increase the funding for cutting-edge research on the condition in an effort to develop a viable treatment option.
The caucus plans to continue to the discussion on tinnitus and American Veteran will continue to follow the issue as it develops. Check back regularly for updates.