126. Dental Care Denied To Homeless Veterans By the VA


Dear Friends and Wanderingvets:

There seemed to be some confusion when I mentioned dental care for Homeless Veterans in a previous article. Yes, dental care is available to Homeless Veterans, but on a very limited scale. This limited scale is going to take the limits of the imagination to figure out though.

It seems to become available for dental care; the Homeless Veteran has to be admitted typically to one of the Veterans Administration’s Transitional Housing programs or Domiciliary program.

In either event, according to the Fall 2007 Memo from the Office of Dentistry, Homeless Veterans Program of the Veterans Administration, there were only 7,100 Homeless Veterans served system wide inside the VA. All of them, being inside the housing program.

Well something the VA fails to mention to all Homeless Veterans upon registering is the following from the Department of Veterans Affairs Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependants 2007 Edition. Chapter 1, Page 11, Outpatient Dental Treatment, Item 7 states:

“(7) Certain Enrolled Homeless Veterans”

What is a Certain Enrolled Homeless Veteran? Enrolled in what, and where? Is that a certain Homeless Veteran they like better than any other homeless one? Is that just the Homeless Veterans in the Transitional Programs?

The Office of Dentistry for Homeless Veterans on their website says only Homeless Veterans missing teeth and other cosmetic irregularities that hinder employment might be eligible for treatment. Upon Registering for services at the VA, all homeless veterans are told they are ineligible for dental services unless it is a “service connected disability”.

Unfortunately, to be enrolled in the Domiciliary or Transitional housing programs at the VA, the Homeless Vet has to be declared a substance abuser or mentally ill to be qualified or to be eligible for rehabilitative work therapy. This is a 70% statistic at the VA. Unfortunately, this disqualifies over 60,000 homeless veterans, or at least the other 30% of over 200,000 homeless veterans, from the VA’s dental care programs.

An interesting article in the Columbus Dispatch states that coroners have listed Septic Shock from Tooth Decay as a cause of death; another is Doug Lay of the Franklin County, Ohio Veterans Service Commission. The fact that the VA has not provided dental treatment adequately to homeless and low income vets has prompted Franklin County, Ohio to set aside their own money to take care of their own Veterans. This is a sad indictment against the Veterans Administration.

The fact that the VA is technically only serving according to the Department of Veterans Affairs Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependants 2007 Edition, Chapter 1, Page 11, Outpatient Dental Treatment, Item…

“(6) Veterans in a VA vocational rehabilitation program.

The Veterans Administration through their own actions are showing their disdain for those Homeless Veterans that are currently rough living, inside emergency shelters, or not eligible for VA care through sobriety, clean living and  just having had a bit of economic hardship.



4 Responses to “126. Dental Care Denied To Homeless Veterans By the VA”

  1. 1 Jim
    March 4, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    I just read this post..nope, they wont do dental..BUT…if your a resident, you can get the works. Extractions, filling, brigdes, dentures, you name it. I know its wrong, but, if its needed bad enough, heck, i tell them to go in, claim an addiction, ask for treatment then a dom somewhere, they ll get what they need that way, other than that, nope, nothing.
    Ive been in the VA for a 2 or 3 day visit with a killer toothache, they wouldnt do anything but over the counter pain meds. Because I wasnt sevice connected, I wasnt eligible.
    It wasnt untill I went thru the Substance Abuse Program and the DOM in Bath, NY did I get all my teeth extracted, and fitted for dentures. I left before my dentures were done, therefore I didnt and now cant get them.
    Also, I got glass’s I needed and a thorough and complete physical, meds I needed and was cared for anything that came up.
    Its a way IF you need it bad enough. Follow the program to the end and you ll walk out fit as ever.

    This formerly homeless veteran and myself have correspondended for months and I have asked his permission to use his words. I decided in return to delete his email and last name for his favor of words. He is showing part of the VA’s fact that they deny treatment to those vets that are not substance addicted or mentally ill.


  2. 2 rose
    March 5, 2008 at 4:36 am

    i just think it stinks the way our brave men @ women
    get stood on

  3. 3 August
    March 17, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    What is the big resistance to help the veterans? Why is it like this? They VA will spend $6,000 per month keeping a veteran locked up in the mental ward after he has become mentally ill from being homeless, but nothing to help him before then.

  4. 4 Bob
    July 31, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    so what I’m reading here is if you need dentures or other dental work through one of these homeless vets programs you must have substance abuse to receive dental help?

    Yes since the VA does not provide dental assistance unless it was a service related condition. The VA does not provide services to homeless veterans unless they have a substance abuse problem. Many veterans in general are denied dental care by the VA.

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