AUGUSTA — Gov. Janet Mills announced Feb. 2 that, thanks to a generous $200,000 grant from Northeast Delta Dental, the Maine Veterans’ Dental Network will continue its dental services for Maine veterans who otherwise cannot afford them.
“I am truly and deeply grateful to Northeast Delta Dental for their incredible generosity, which will allow this program to continue providing vital dental services to veterans across Maine,” Mills said in a press release from her office.
Tom Raffio, president and CEO of Northeast Delta Dental, said in the release that the company is “committed to honoring those who served by helping to close the gap in access to dental care for veterans in Maine.”
Mills launched the Maine Veterans Dental Network in 2021 in partnership with Northeast Delta Dental, participating nonprofit dental clinics, the state’s dental schools, and Federally Qualified Health Centers. The network is intended to serve as an oral health safety net for Maine veterans and is operated on a first-come, first-served basis until the grant funding runs out.
The network began providing services in 2021 with an initial grant of $35,000 from Northeast Delta Dental. In 2022, Northeast Delta Dental provided a $100,000 grant to enable the Veteran’s Dental Network to continue its services.
“We are thrilled,” Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services Director David Richmond said in the release. “…The need for veterans to be able to access oral health care is a real issue, and this program serves as a lifeline to those services.”
With this new funding, the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services will reach out to the 232 veterans who sought dental services in 2022 before the funds were exhausted and then will work with new applicants in 2023.
Sarah Sherman, director of strategic partnerships for MBVS and founder of the network, said that last year, the bureau provided comprehensive dental services for 357 veterans who qualified for the program. “For many of them,” she said in the release, “this was their first time accessing oral health care since they had discharged from the military. Providing dental care to veterans is a commonsense, overall preventative health care measure that needs more attention.”
Anyone interested in supporting the Maine Veteran’s Dental Network can make a donation directly to the dental clinics themselves and the funds will be earmarked for veterans to receive direct services, Sherman said.
To qualify for MVDN dental care, a veteran must meet the following criteria:
Be a Maine resident.
Not 100% service-connected to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Cannot afford to pay for dental care out of pocket.
Does not have dental insurance.
Must submit a DD-214 that shows an Honorable or General Under Honorable conditions discharge.
For National Guard only, served on active duty (other than for training).
The network has 22 nonprofit dental clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and Maine dental schools participating, including: Lincoln County Dental (Wiscasset); Kennebec Valley Family Dentistry (Augusta); Waterville Community Dental; the UNE Dental Clinic (Portland); the UMA Dental Clinic (Bangor); Katahdin Valley Health Center (Houlton, Patten, Ashland, Brownville, and Millinocket); Greater Portland Health; St. Croix Regional Family Health Center (Princeton); Eastport Health Care (Eastport); Fish River Rural Health (Fort Kent, Madawaska, and Eagle Lake); Community Dental (Biddeford, Portland, Farmington, and Lewiston), Mainely Teeth (Portland and mobile dental clinic), and Penobscot Community Health Center (Bangor).