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My father and mother have committed their lives to serving this country. It’s hard to think that because of that his hearing is damaged. Read more...
In 1989 my father joined the United States Navy. Twenty-six years later he is still on active duty. He told me that even when he was a child all he wanted to do was be in the military. He has achieved the highest enlisted rank a member of the Navy can reach – Master Chief. I think it’s safe to say that my father has given his life to this country in support of something bigger than himself, and I personally want to thank him for that. He’s not an infantryman, although he did serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. My father has, for most of his career, sat behind a desk, but that’s because in 1989 he had a wife and a daughter, and another child on the way … me. He knew he could be a member of the military without putting himself in grave danger, so he decided to become an Intelligence Specialist. I’ll be honest, I don’t know what that means, and I probably wouldn’t talk about it if I did. The point is he has served his country honorably for almost 30 years.

When my father joined, he was quickly assigned to sea duty. Squids, another name for new Navy men, serve 3 years shore duty and 3 years sea duty. I don’t know if this has changed, but during sea duty they are assigned to a ship and often sent out on 6 month deployments and return home for a few weeks, just to be sent out again. My father has served on aircraft carriers, destroyers, and cruisers. Aircraft carriers are nuclear powered, mobile airplane runways. They are enormous! He’s been assigned to two aircraft carriers throughout his career. I’ve been on them; they’re loud and there is a constant buzzing sound from the power plant on board. Obviously this isn’t good for one’s hearing, which is why after years of being assigned to these ships, my father has sustained some hearing loss.

Like many, my father is in denial about his hearing loss. He doesn’t want to admit that he says “what?” more than anyone should, or that the TV isn’t that loud. Dad, it is, and it shouldn’t be that loud … ever!   I love my dad, and I want him to be able to hear what I’m saying, as well as the entire family. I want him to be happy, and not someone who eventually loses his hearing completely because he’s too stubborn to have it checked. It’s also very difficult for my mother to deal with. I know she loves him, and wants to help, but it becomes a burden because he is unwilling to seek help.

Still today he hasn’t visited a hearing-care professional, unless he’s gone within the time it took for me to write this piece, and I highly doubt it. He knows he has a problem but won’t see a doctor or an audiologist. Why is that? He has the best insurance money could buy, and some of the best doctors at his fingertips. He says he can hear fine, but some part of him has to know that he can’t. I don’t personally have hearing loss, but I can’t imagine it’s that difficult to recognize or admit that you have a problem.  Hearing loss is quite common and is nothing to be ashamed of.  Experts estimate that 20% of Americans have some degree of hearing loss. That’s 48 million people. It happens to the best of us. It’s got to be frustrating, struggling to hear people and asking them to repeat themselves constantly.

Knowledge is the first step. When we are willing to recognize and admit that we are lacking in an area, then we can address the issue. If I was having problems seeing I would go see an Optometrist. Why are we so hesitant to see an Audiologist? They want to help us live happy, fully engaged lives. Even if you can’t get hearing aids, getting a checkup won’t hurt. It will empower you to proactively address the issue. It could be something as simple as impacted ear wax. And if needed, there are all kinds of products out there designed to help.
For those with hearing loss, it’s okay to admit that you are struggling.  Seek help by visiting with a hearing specialist. For those without hearing loss, be supportive, and encourage your friends and family who struggle to go have their hearing checked.
My father and mother have committed their lives to serving this country. It’s hard to think that because of that his hearing is damaged. He’s a strong man, and one of my personal heroes. Hearing loss doesn’t make him any less of a man or a hero, especially not to me. He will always be the strongest man I know, and the man I hope to one day become, even if I have to lose my hearing to be like him. I want what’s best for him, and I want him to take care of himself. So dad, if you are reading this, please, get your hearing checked. Go see a doctor; don’t procrastinate getting the help you need. If you’re like my father, I would encourage you to do the same; don’t wait. I want what’s best for my father and for you. Even if your hearing loss isn’t too bad, don’t wait till it becomes something serious. Go get a simple hearing evaluation.

Written by Christopher Frakes, Marketing Assistant