Earlier this morning while in a meeting at a local Starbucks, I encountered a gentleman who was a Veteran, who apparently walked into a private meeting that I had put together with several people for this morning. Apparently, he had a “hearing loss” of some sorts, that was unforeseen from a his tour of duty. Not knowing, if he had severed in any post 9/11 war efforts, he apparently didn’t see the sign on the wall that the room was reserved for a private meeting.
I had to shout a little to get his attention, but, instead he decided to be a rude awakening in his matter of self respect. It had appeared to all of us in the meeting, that he didn’t quite understand “why” I was shouting lightly at him and not in an aggressive matter to get his attention – but, politely.
In my more than forty years of having a hearing loss, I understand that nature of a hearing loss completely. I wear several hats in my life – especially, when it comes to having a hearing loss. I would have never known, this Veteran had a life changing hearing loss could be so complicated, while serving in the Armed Forces.
My Uncle used to tell me, those who are back from war take things in an entirely different matter, than, what they do before leaving stateside for war or service deployment – today, that incident confirmed my Uncle’s statement he made to me many years ago at a young and understandable age.
When the meeting was over with, I walked up to him at his table to let him know, that, I didn’t know he lost his hearing in an explosion, while in the service. I had showed him my Cochlear Implant on my right ear and told him I had lost my hearing as well, but, that, I was apologizing for lightly shouting at him to a higher pitch level to get his attention, than stood my hand out to shake his hand – refusing to accept the process of a friendly understanding handshake, literally blew me away on a friendly fire of my own ability to reason with him on the understanding of that he indeed had a hearing loss and that I had understood his position in being discouraged that, “We” civilians should be in the know without knowing that our Men and Women in the Armed Forces have come home stateside with new changes in life, including having a hearing loss from loud explosions and gun fire while fighting the enemy somewhere in the world.
God knows, I had some good intentions of reasoning and settling the playing field to communicate with him about having a hearing loss and to share my own experiences of more than forty years of my own life living with the disability myself. Not scoring any merit points with the truce, he instead refused to acknowledge the generosity of a friendly handshake – instead, I was viewed as the enemy.
My experience with this incident will never be the same as life goes on. But, there will be more experiences in life where some Veteran would accept the the handshake and the generosity of friendship and a guide to one’s answers to life with a hearing loss. My only hope is that he understands losing a hearing loss is a big difference and a total knockout in one’s average lifestyle serving a life changing tour of duty.
I may not understand the PTSD effects of the battlefield – but, I do know, the battlefield cries for help in one’s quest to understand the PTSD of returning home with a hearing loss stateside. In closing, God Bless our Men and Women serving in the Armed Forces around the world and to those just returning from war.