NCRF launched the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project at the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) headquarters in Bethesda, Md., on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Five veterans with varying degrees of hearing loss chronicled their service experiences for the Veterans History Project (VHP):
- Fred Becchetti, who served in the Army Air Corps in World War II
- Edward Connor, who served in the Air Force in World War II
- David McWatters, who served in the Marine Corps during the Vietnam War
- Charles Rupprecht, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War
- James Whitcraft, who served in the Air Force during the Persian Gulf War, among other conflicts
Rupprecht and Whitcraft were interviewed over the phone.
Court reporters and captioners traveled from as far as southern Virginia and Pennsylvania to volunteer their time and skills to preserve these veterans’ experiences for the VHP collection at the Library of Congress.
NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000. In 2013, members were asked to preserve the stories of veterans who hadn’t yet recorded their histories through personal interviews and VHP Days. To date, NCRF has submitted more than 4,000 transcripts to the Library of Congress.
The Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project is a new NCRF VHP initiative that specifically seeks to interview veterans with hearing loss with the help of CART captioning. Hearing loss is among the most common service-related injuries due to constant exposure to loud noises in training and in combat, and it tends to worsen over time. In addition to preserving these veterans’ stories for the VHP, the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project introduces CART captioning, which is a service that may benefit these veterans in their daily lives.
Washington D.C.’s news channel NBC4 was on-site to hear from two of the veterans interviewed, Becchetti and McWatters, as well as NCRF Deputy Executive Director B.J. Shorak.
According to McWatters, veterans need to be educated on services they are entitled to.
“Veterans aren’t getting the information,” McWatters told NBC4. “If they had the information, they could use it. They have benefits.”
NCRF will host Hard-of-Hearing Heroes VHP Days across the country, supported by an Innovation Grant from the ASAE Foundation. NCRF will host an event during HLAA’s annual convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June, as well as at the Association of Late-Deafened Adults annual convention in Orlando, Fla., in October.