Of all the injuries and illnesses that affect our veterans and troops who have been stationed overseas, their dental health is often overlooked. Veterans exhibit an array of dental problems that may be the result of spotty oral hygiene and overconsumption of sugary drinks in combat and may include conditions such as dry mouth, or xerostomia, which increases the erosion of tooth enamel.
Veteran Matthew Blits, who has lost most of his top teeth and is in desperate need of care for his bottom teeth, remembers, “There’s been days where I’m curled up in a ball crying because it hurts so bad.”
Adrian Boyce, a veteran of the Battle of Fallujah, suffers from dental pain so bad that “It can affect the way you operate on a daily basis.”
Dental Care for Veterans
While there are many veterans suffering from similar dental problems, the VA will not pay for dental care unless the veteran is also 100 percent disabled. Blits, Boyce, and many others like them are not considered 100 percent disabled and therefore are not covered by the VA for dental care. However, veterans have gotten help through an organization called Rebuilding America’s Warriors, or RAW. RAW was originally founded to fund plastic surgery for disfigured vets and has since expanded to cover vets in need of dental care.
Rebuilding America’s Warriors
RAW has reached out to Texas dentists to provide care for veterans and Dr. David Wilhite and his wife Nancy have become contributors. Dr. Wilhite is now providing dental implants and dentures for Blits and Boyce to repair their mouths.
“He melted my heart,” Nancy said upon first meeting Adrian Boyce.
“I look to our returning servicemen to help them out,” adds Dr. Wilhite, “and to compensate them for their contribution to society.”
Story originally reported by http://www.wfaa.com/