The Dental Lifeline Network (DLN) is asking dentists to recognize the nation’s veterans this Memorial Day by taking part in its “Will You See One Vet” campaign and providing free care to just one veteran with special needs one time each year.
Herbert, a US Army Vietnam veteran, suffered from a cracked and ill-fitting upper denture. Also, his six remaining bottom teeth were worn, broken, and decayed due to his diabetes. But he was ineligible for dental assistance through Veterans Affairs, and he could not afford the necessary dental treatment.
DLN volunteer dentist Dr. Mark Berger donated his time and services to help restore Herbert’s oral health. Also, the Rebour Dental Lab fabricated full upper and lower dentures for Herbert at no cost.
“Treating Herbert has been an absolute pleasure. Our entire office is appreciative and thankful for the years of service Herbert gave to our country,” said Berger. “Giving any veteran a new smile is something that we were very proud to be able to do, and this program definitely facilitated this goal.”
There are more than 11,000 people on DLN’s waiting list, the organization reports, noting that lack of care can lead to the inability to have life-saving surgery, eat nutritiously, or contribute to the community. For many of these veterans, DLN adds, volunteer dental professionals are their only hope for care.
“This awareness campaign showcases the life-changing difference our volunteers have made in the lives of veterans,” said Fred Leviton, chief executive officer of DLN.
“We hope sharing this message will inspire even more volunteers to participate in our program, allowing DLN to serve a greater number of veterans in our communities with disabilities, who are elderly or medically fragile,” Leviton said.
For more than 30 years, DLN has facilitated donated, comprehensive dental care to vulnerable people with disabilities, the elderly, or those who are medically compromised. Its volunteer network comprises 15,000 dentists and 3,500 dental laboratories.
According to the US Census, there are 18.2 million veterans in the United States. But many of them do not qualify for full dental benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Also, homeless veterans list dental care among their top three unmet needs.