Establishment of the Defense Department’s hearing center of excellence is “well underway,” Lt. Gen. Charles Green, Air Force surgeon general, told House lawmakers Tuesday in prepared testimony. With its executive hub located in San Antonio at Wilford Hall Medical Center on Lackland AFB, Tex., the HCE will lead DOD and Department of Veterans Affairs efforts to prevent, diagnose, mitigate, treat, and rehabilitate hearing loss and auditory system injuries to US military personnel. Green said the HCE also “will greatly enhance research efforts” in this realm. Hearing loss is a significant cost-incurring disability for both organizations, he said. In fact, “tinnitus is the number one diagnosis of veterans” from Afghanistan and Iraq, he said. The Air Force Medical Service is the lead component for the HCE, which was created by a provision in the 2009 defense authorization act. (Green prepared remarks)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.