In the United States, many war veterans are denied financial support for dental care because they do not qualify for it under the rules of the Department of Veteran affairs (VA). VA is denying financial support to veterans who can’t afford the dental care; VA sets the qualifying criteria very high.
Elanor Goldberg from Huffington Post reports what criteria is required to receive Veteran dental care benefits:
“… they have to be 100 percent disabled, have been a prisoner of war or have developed a dental condition during their service. The need is so great that homeless veterans list dental care among their top three unmet needs, along with housing and child care. “
Fortunately, some dentists are offering free dental service.
“…Aspen Dental, which has more than 500 offices nationwide, dispensed a mobile unit throughout the country for the first time last year. And after seeing one vet after another file into the 42-foot trailer-turned-dental-facility, the company decided to take a more proactive approach to serving former servicemen and servicewomen.
This year, the organization partnered with Got Your 6, a nonprofit that supports veterans, mobilized its dentists around the country and served more than 4,000 veterans in need of dental care, Chedly Vincent, director of clinical support and community giving, told HuffPost. That came to $2.8 million in donated services….”
William Bell is a veteran of the Iraq war who recently received Dental treatment from Aspen Dental. Reportedly, his teeth were very decayed for years, but he could not afford the treatment. He did not receive the VA benefits because he was not 100 percent disabled. However, Bell has suffered from cancer and kidney problems and received VA benefits; with dental treatment, for some unknown reason, it is not important enough for VA to provide benefits.
Eun Kyung Kim from Today.com reported the following:
“Yet, since he was considered 80 percent disabled by VA standards, Bell wasn’t eligible for the agency’s dental care,…
…’I’ve been to the VA three or four different times trying to get them to help me somehow,’ he told TODAY.com. ‘If I have major surgery, I can go to the VA and I can get it done, but when it comes to dental work, they just overlook it and won’t help.’
His VA doctor eventually connected Bell with the Healthy Mouth Movement, a program by Aspen Dental that provides free dental care to under-served communities….
…Last week, a program-affiliated dentist pulled out 19 of Bell’s 20 teeth as part of an hours-long surgery to remedy his problems”
Today.com also reported what DR. Sharks (who treated Bell) and William bell had to say about the treatment.
” ‘A lot of the guys come back with post traumatic stress. They’re taking different medications that affect your teeth. Lot of the guys become diabetic, and that affects your teeth,’ Sharks said.
Vincent added that a lack of regular dental care and treatment has an impact beyond a person’s teeth.
‘There’s deterioration that occurs physically and aesthetically but also, it’s not safe health wise because the mouth is the gateway to our bodies,’ she said, noting that periodontal disease can increase the risk for stroke, heart disease, and other health problems.
Bell has seen that first hand.
‘I guess a lot of my (recent) health issues had to do with my teeth because since I’ve had my teeth pulled I’ve been feeling excellent,’ he said. ‘This is the best I’ve felt in a long time.’ “
If poor dental health causes other illnesses in the body, then why is VA willing to provide treatment benefits for other illnesses except for the cause of said illnesses? Maybe Veteran affairs should start giving dental benefits to those less than 100 percent disabled; dental treatment may be the best treatment for some illnesses in the body.