Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) has introduced the Make Our Veterans Smile Act (H.R. 5653) that would expand dental coverage to all veterans who received a Purple Heart and are enrolled with the VA. The Purple Heart is awarded to any American servicemember wounded while engaged with enemy forces.
"Providing dental coverage to Purple Heart veterans is the right thing to do," said Congresswoman Baldwin. "Offering this basic health service sends a message to veterans as well, as current servicemembers, that we honor their sacrifices. Our nation's veterans are contending with unacceptable levels of unemployment, and unsightly dental problems can be a barrier to finding a job. Regular visits to a dentist could help these heroes get hired and prevent more serious health problems from developing. Our brave men and women wounded by the enemy deserve this basic health coverage," Baldwin said.
Each year, thousands of American veterans with disabilities are forced to pay for dental coverage out of their own pockets, or forgo it altogether. Currently, only former POWs, veterans with a 100% service-connected disability rating, or the chronically homeless qualify for comprehensive dental coverage through the VA.
"As a former Army combat medic in Vietnam and a dentist involved with many veterans' organizations, I want to thank Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin for sponsoring the Make our Veterans Smile Act," said Dr. John Hofer, CDR (ret) USNR and Chair, Dane County Veterans Service Commission. "I believe that this bill can correct a longstanding, overlooked inequity for our wounded veterans. By providing all Purple Heart recipients VA dental care, this bill corrects an eligibility benefit that they certainly have earned from combat wounds they received while defending our country," Dr. Hofer said.