Hi-tech aid restores what war took away from St Paul's Cray veteran
PUBLISHED: 13:12 04 April 2013 | UPDATED: 13:12 04 April 2013
It can take days for the ringing in a soldier's ears to fade after surviving a grenade attack.
As the dust settles, screaming voices are muffled and gunshots become barely comprehensible. But while hearing gradually returns for most, an unlucky few are left with permanently damaged hearing – putting careers in jeopardy.
Michael Evans, 27, of St Paul’s Cray, had been a member of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment for nine years when a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) hit a nearby wall while he was on a routine patrol in Afghanistan.
The explosion in 2008 left Michael’s hearing severely damaged and led to him being downgraded and eventually demobbed.
“It was just a routine patrol, an RPG flew over the top of my head and hit the wall behind me,” said Michael.
“I knew my hearing was badly damaged by the amount of tests I had to go through, but also because the tinnitus was getting louder – I still have that today.”
Michael’s hearing had already been damaged before he was sent to the warn-torn country. During an accident at the training ground, a dummy grenade went off close to his head, causing permanent damage.
After being brought back to the UK and discharged from service in 2010, it took Michael a year to find help with his damaged hearing, which was restricting his ability to even keep up with conversations.
He found a lifeline through Help for Heroes, which, along with hearing aid manufacturers Phonak, provided Michael with a completely invisible, state-of-the-art device worth £3,000 to restore his hearing.
It means he is now able to look after daughters Bonnie, five, and Josie-May, two, when his partner Katherine isn’t home without fear of missing a cry or call for help.
“I found a place local to me, the Hearing Care Centre in Bromley, and they fitted me with the device which I wear all day, every day.”
“I’m now passing hearing tests and have been looking into security work.”
But though his hearing is vastly improved, he still misses army life and has found the adjustment from soldier to civilian a difficult process.
He added: “I’m physically fit, so it’s very frustrating. I have so many skills and it just feels as though the government have wasted money to train me and not use me.
“It has been a huge adjustment and I’ve had to change my mindset. I used to be home for two weeks and then put my army brain back on, but now I’ve had to permanently switch that off and it’s difficult.”
To find out how you could receive help as an ex-servicemen, visit www.hearingcarecentres.co.uk.