In the U.S., we observe Veterans Day annually on November 11th to honor all who have served in the United States Armed Forces. Cochlear volunteers serve others all year round in all walks of life. As we near Veterans Day, we want to pay a special tribute to the Cochlear volunteers who have also served our country. Here are a few of their stories.
Denise B. is a bilateral Cochlear recipient and Cochlear volunteer from New Albany, Mississippi. Denise served 21 years in the Air Force from 1974 – 1995. Her first assignment was in Washington D.C., where she completed her training as a Registered Dietitian. She was then assigned to George Air Force Base in Victorville, CA, where she met and married her husband, Buzz B.
Buzz served in the Air Force from 1963 – 1984. He started as an aircraft fuel systems mechanic with assignments in Florida, New Mexico, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and California. He was retrained in physical therapy, and during his service in California met Denise. When he retired after twenty years of service he focused on raising the couple’s two children as the family moved to different locations during Denise’s career.
Denise completed her masters and PhD degrees in nutrition, and went on to hold various roles at several different bases in the United States, including the medical center nutrition department at Andrews Air Force Base and the Defense Medical Information Systems Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (an office of the Pentagon). Her last assignment before she retired was at Keesler Medical Center in Biloxi, MS.
Teaching In Retirement
After Denise retired from the military, she held several academic positions including serving as a faculty member at the University of Southern Mississippi. It was during this time that Denise experienced sudden and profound hearing loss in her left ear and chose to receive her Cochlear implant.
“Initially, the loss of my ability to talk with my husband, children and grandchildren was the greatest loss, followed by my inability to listen and understand music,” Denise said.
Denise received her first Cochlear implant in 2009 at the VA Hospital in Birmingham, AL. The device restored her ability to engage in conversation, teach, and communicate with her two children, especially after the introduction of the wireless phone clip and microphone. “These devices have almost fully restored my ability to communicate effectively.”
Hearing From a Spouse
Buzz is not a Cochlear recipient himself, but as the spouse of a recipient he knows firsthand that hearing loss affects the individual and their loved ones. “Loved ones are also impacted, and need people to talk to for information and guidance. When Denise received her first implant in 2009 there were few support options in our area especially for adults with hearing loss. Today there are so many resources, volunteers to talk with, and meetings to connect with recipients and their families and so many other resources to support rehabilitation. Candidates and recipients can find many answers to their questions and concerns by reaching out to the large network of Cochlear volunteers,” Buzz said.
As veterans, Denise and Buzz are examples of dedication, support, and service to our country. As Cochlear volunteers, their dedication and support to help others along their hearing journey continues to provide a service to those in need, both locally and across the country through the online mentor program, Cochlear Connections.”
They love sharing their experiences, providing emotional support, answering questions, and pointing people to resources and information about Cochlear implants.
“Because of the sudden loss of my hearing and my profound deafness, the Cochlear implant was a miracle to me,” Denise said. Now, she loves connecting with anyone considering an implantable solution, sharing her personal experience, and being there to answer questions as well as listen to their needs.
Learning, Sharing and Volunteering
Denise and Buzz love learning about the technology in greater depth and sharing this knowledge with recipients and their families.
“We also have a network of recipients and other volunteers to bounce ideas off of and share information that improves our own journey and helps us to reach out to others,” Buzz said.
In 2017, Denise received her second implant and that has been helpful for loud environments and has improved the quality of musical sounds. She is looking forward to pursuing music to a much greater degree.
“We would have given anything to have had someone to talk to at the beginning of our journey,” Buzz said. “Now we volunteer to be sure others have people with firsthand experience to share, including spouses and other family members who need someone to talk to.”
Would you like to speak directly to Denise or someone who has had a similar hearing experience as yours? Visit Cochlear Connections today where online mentors are available to answer your questions.
Are you a Cochlear volunteer and veteran interested in sharing your story for use in future volunteer opportunities? Let us hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.