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U.S. Air Force/Alejandro Peña

A defense contractor has agreed to pay $9.1 million to settle claims that it furnished U.S. service members with earplugs that it knew were defective, the Department of Justice announced on Thursday. The settlement suggests that pure greed may be partly to blame for the military's "silent epidemic" of hearing loss.

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Screenshot via YouTube

Hearing loss is a huge problem for active-duty service members and veterans alike, but the military has done very little in the past to preempt auditory damage beyond issuing earplugs to troops downrange. Instead, the responsibility falls on the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide medical treatment and compensate veterans grappling with service-connected auditory issues.

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