My grandfather, Mick Sawalich, was in the Navy serving on the Liberty Ship USS Crater AK-70 in the South Pacific during World War II. A replica of his ship sits on the shelf in my office. I have always been fascinated by our history, and his ship serves as a reminder of the sacrifice of all of our nation’s veterans.

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We don’t have to wait until Veterans Day to honor the men and women who serve or have served our country. On November 4th, Starkey Hearing Technologies hosted nearly a dozen local veterans at the Minnesota Vikings game. It gave me an opportunity to talk with veterans ranging in age from 35 to 99. There were veterans from World War II, Vietnam and the Korean War. It was a day of reflection and sharing stories – and cheering the Vikings on to victory!

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As the President of the only American-owned and operated hearing aid manufacturer, I feel a special responsibility to give back to our veterans, whether it’s by taking Art to his first game since the Vikings played at Met Stadium or by helping them to hear better and live better.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 2.7 million veterans currently receive disability benefits for hearing loss. It is the top service-related medical issue for veterans, even more common than post-traumatic stress disorder. But the real number impacted is likely much higher. Just like the civilian population, veterans typically wait at least seven years before seeking help for hearing loss.

At Starkey Hearing Technologies, we are on a mission to change that statistic. Hearing aids are no longer the big, boxy stereotype many people have in their heads. They are discrete, technologically advanced and dare I say it, cool. They not only help connect you with the world around you, but they now offer brain and body tracking. They utilize AI and sensors to continuously improve, and I can confidently say, this is just the beginning.

Our team is proud of our work to help our nation’s heroes. My grandfather’s ship is a daily reminder there is much more work to do.

If you are a veteran who may be experiencing hearing loss, contact the VA facility in your area: https://www.va.gov/directory/guide/home.asp