3M Dual-Ended Combat Earplugs Injure Thousands of U.S. Military

military tinnitus

Are you suffering from tinnitus or partial to full hearing loss after using dual-ended earplugs during military combat or training? Perhaps you and others in your battalion noticed problems with a specific yellow and green earplug. It has come to the attention of many that the Combat Arms Earplugs, Version 2 (CAEv2) by 3M may be responsible for serious hearing injuries.

Consumer goods conglomerate 3M has admitted to wrongdoing and failing to reveal design errors in their combat earplugs. These errors kept the plugs from being effective and cost thousands of women and men in the military their hearing. 3M has already agreed to pay the United States government $9.1 million for their mistake.

The lawyers at The Oshman Firm are offering free, 100% confidential, no-obligation consultations to those who believe they may have been impacted. We are available 7 days a week to assist veterans affected by tinnitus or hearing loss after using these military-issued earplugs. Let us help you seek compensation for your injuries and stop major corporations from profiting off the harm they willingly cause our military family.


How the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Are Supposed to Work

3M acquired a company called Aearo Technologies, who won a contract with the government after offering them a superior “selective attenuation earplug.” Each end of the dual earplug should have functioned separately. The yellow open end supposedly allowed voice commands and other low-level noise to be heard, while the green closed end was made to protect the ear against both low and high-level sounds. Together, the plugs were expected to provide protection during gunfire and other combat sounds on one end and allow for low-frequency hearing and communication at the other.

3M earplugs


How 3M’s Mistake Affects Former and Current Military Members

Sadly, the earplugs did not live up to expectations. During testing, 3M personnel determined the plugs were too short to properly fit the ear canal, failing to seal it against harmful noise levels. From the outside, everything looked fine, but inside the ear, the plugs fit loosely and allowed extreme noise to damage the hearing of American soldiers.

Unfortunately, this discovery did not prompt Aearo Technologies and 3M to correct their design. Instead, they folded back the yellow flanges at the earplug’s open end, so as to make the earplug fit more fully and deeply within the ear. By elongating the plugs, they hoped they would more effectively close the ear off from damaging noise.


Possible Injuries Caused by 3M Combat Earplugs 

Thousands of soldiers in the United States armed forces have reported severe hearing issues after being issued 3M’s dual-sided combat earplugs. The most common are tinnitus and partial or full hearing loss. These defective earplugs are allegedly behind the reports.


Tinnitus is a condition caused by damage to the delicate hair cells in your inner ear that respond to sound. They may become broken or bent, causing them to send noise signals to the brain even when there is no sound. There is no test to discover this condition. Instead, a person is diagnosed by answering a series of questions from his or her doctor.

Symptoms of tinnitus include the following noises in the ear:

  • Humming
  • Hissing
  • Clicking
  • Roaring
  • Buzzing
  • Ringing

Hearing Loss

Training and combat routinely expose soldiers to high decibel levels. Hearing loss can happen with any noise higher than 85 dB, so proper ear protection is imperative for those performing military jobs. Loud noises can be caused by gunfire, shoulder-fired rockets, missile launchers, bomb explosions and other common combat weapons. These explosive sounds can damage the cochlea’s nerve cells or hairs in the inner ear, disrupting the electrical signals traveling to the brain. Hearing loss can be measured through medical tests.

Hearing loss and tinnitus can be devastating for anyone’s emotional and mental health, but studies show it might be worse for soldiers. These injuries have been shown to cause depression, anxiety, and possibly a higher suicide rate for veterans.

While hearing loss and tinnitus are some of the most common injuries reported by the Veterans Association, veterans on active duty after the 9/11 attacks suffer from 4x more hearing injuries than other vets (Centers for Disease Control). With 3M being the sole U.S. military defense earplug contractor between 2003 and 2015, these statistics are likely more than coincidence.


What to Do If You’ve Received a Hearing Loss or Tinnitus Diagnosis

Unfortunately, there is an abundance of stories about women and men who have been hurt by the negligent acts of Aearo Technologies and 3M. The legal team at The Oshman Firm can help. If you or someone you love served on active duty between 2003 and 2015 and received a hearing loss or tinnitus diagnosis, please call our firm at (800) 400-8182 today. Legal evaluations are free and 100% confidential. Your inquiry is private and will not be shared with the government or military.


Frequently Asked Questions 

Who Should Worry About Defective Earplugs by 3M?

If you are a military member who served in combat between 2003 and 2015 during Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom, you may have been affected by 3M’s faulty earplugs. This is true across several military branches. Up to 2.2 million pairs of 3M combat earplugs were given out in this 12-year period, one pair for each soldier. Around 1.5 million U.S. soldiers used these earplugs, all of whom may be potentially eligible to recover compensation for their losses.

The following military units may have been affected by 3M’s mistake. Please know that this is not a complete list, so if you feel you’ve been affected, please call us to discuss your specific situation.

  • Army V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany – 35,000 V Corps personnel, including helicopter attack units, air defense, military police and engineering who were placed under the command of Lt. Gen. William Wallace in the invasion.
  • 173rd Airborne Brigade and the 82nd Airborne Divisions 2nd Brigade – Military units that fought in Northern and Central Iraq.
  • Army 101st Airborne Division – A unit made up of 280 helicopters and 19,000 service members who were deployed in Southern and Northern Iraq.
  • Army Third Infantry Division – 16,500 military service personnel mechanized with M2A2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, M1A1 Abrams tanks, and Kiowa Warrior scout and Apache attack helicopters.
  • First Marine Expeditionary Force – A military force with around 50,000 Marines.

Who Are We Suing?

Many people mistakenly believe that a lawsuit for defective earplugs will entail suing the American government or a military branch. However, the truth is the military did not know the earplugs they provided to troops were dangerous and defective. Instead, you’ll be bringing a lawsuit against the manufacturing companies who sold these earplugs for a hefty profit, knowing full well that they were not safe. In this circumstance, those companies are 3M and Aearo Technologies.

Should I Sue 3M and Aearo Technologies for Defective Earplugs? 

Regardless of a person’s background, military status or gender, we receive calls from people who believe they aren’t the type of person to sue anyone. Perhaps you have even looked past several earplug lawsuit advertisements on the news or Facebook before reaching this page. It’s true that filing a claim might not cure your hearing problems. However, recovering financial compensation can help you pay for holistic medicine or new medical procedures that may not be covered by Veteran’s Affairs. You could even put your potential award towards a better retirement.

help for veterans with tinnitus

Seeking legal help can have a lot of benefits. Not only do you have the chance to receive compensation for your losses, you can also help prevent potential future catastrophes by holding the manufacturers of these dangerous devices accountable for their careless and negligent actions.

When you contact our law firm, you are not under any obligation to decide if you want to file a claim. We will help you determine the best action for your family without pressuring you to file a claim. In fact, many people wait until after their case evaluation to decide. We are here to guide you.


Call The Oshman Firm Today and Fight Back Against Conglomerate 3M

 If you suffer from tinnitus or any kind of hearing loss after using 3M’s combat earplugs while serving in the military, you deserve justice. 3M allegedly knew they were selling faulty earplugs to the military for use in combat and should be held accountable for their actions.

Contact the lawyers at The Oshman Firm today at (800) 400-8182 for a free, confidential case evaluation. We will fight for the justice and fair compensation your family deserves.


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