David Levy, Boston ’20 and Anisha Pandya, Boston ’20
Although military veterans receive free medical care for life from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from a grateful nation, due to a law passed in 1955, lifetime dental care is only given to those who are 100% disabled by their service, former prisoners of war, or have a dental disability stemming from their service. Data from the VA and the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau report indicate that only 3% of veterans are eligible for comprehensive VA dental benefits. Additionally, dental care is reported as one of the top 3 unmet needs of homeless veterans, causing tremendous barriers in seeking and obtaining employment. This creates a massive gap in oral health care for the vast majority of veterans, who are left to buy private policies at their own cost. The only care that all veterans can receive at a VA clinic is emergency treatment at high cost. With Congress introducing bills to promote pilot programs and veterans’ dental care eligibility expansion (H.R.1749, S.3313, and H.R.4556), ASDA should continue to support evidence-based measures that are efficacious and sustainable in reducing barriers to care in special populations and underserved communities; therefore, be it
Resolved, that the American Student Dental Association supports appropriate initiatives and legislation to improve and foster the oral health of all military veterans. The Association also encourages constituent and component dental societies to support legislation promoting access to veterans’ dental care, including eligibility expansion of dental care at the VA.