We treat hearing loss as an inevitable cost of war. It shouldn’t be.
I don’t remember the moment the bomb went off, but I do know that when I landed, stunned, at the bottom of the gun turret of my vehicle, blood was leaking from my ears. I was quickly evacuated to Bagram Air Force Base, where I saw an audiologist. I could barely hear a word he said, so he showed me a drawing of my eardrums. Only hanging shreds remained.
For weeks people would have to shout at me to even get me to notice them, and I was now stuck with the supremely tedious duty of mixing and pouring concrete into the fortified command post we would eventually abandon. Nothing is worse than watching your platoon roll out on patrol without you.
It was assumed that I would be permanently deaf.