The Veteran’s Administration has contracts in place with six major hearing aid manufacturers - GN ReSound, Oticon, Phonak, Siemens (Signia), Starkey, and Widex. The VA uses the manufacturer’s premium levels of technology-the same hearing aids that sell for the highest prices in the private sector. There are several styles of hearing aids available, from the smallest - Invisible in the Canal (IIC) to the largest and strongest - Power Behind the Ear (BTE), and the very popular Receiver in the Canal (RIC) - made to fit most hearing losses while remaining nearly unseen. VA contracts are updated twice per year, and new technology is constantly emerging and available for use as a result.
When it comes to making recommendations for amplification, the audiologist and Veteran will consider the Veteran’s hearing loss, lifestyle, listening situations, and preferences before making a selection. For some Veterans, additional accessories such as remote controls, TV streamers, Bluetooth cell phone connections, or remote microphones, may be recommended based on the Veteran’s specific concerns or problems. It is important to remember that what works for one person won’t always work for another, and that your audiologist wouldn’t recommend a product for you that would be inappropriate. Hearing aids provided by the VA include a three-year manufacturer’s warranty for loss/damage/repair. The VA also supplies batteries, wax guards, domes, and other supplies required for maintaining the hearing aids, and these can be re-ordered as needed by the Veteran.
For more information on scheduling a hearing test and/or hearing aid services, contact your local VA Medical Center’s Audiology Department. Veterans Health Administration Locations.
To add to what Kathryn said, the VA only fits top-level technology. This is primarily because they fit 20% of the hearing aids in the United States--10% of the hearing aids in the world! This means they have huge purchasing power and get the instruments at a significant discount (approximately 80% off the wholesale list price).
This being the case, anyone with military experience who suspects they may be a candidate for hearing aids through the VA should exhaust their options there before purchasing from a retail location (like my own; I'm in private practice and make my living sellin hearing aids, but I also believe this is a better option for our veterans). The VA system can take time to get through, but they will only get fit with the best technology if they can "tough it out."
In some regions, the VA has partnered with private practices to do their work for them if the veteran lives a significant distance from a VA facility or the wait time for service at their local VA facility is too long. In these instances, they can ask to see a local provider who the VA has approved to do the work for them. There is not guarantee they will authorize it, but it is worth asking.
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