On Feb 21, the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services (MBVS) received the 2022 VA Abraham Lincoln Pillar of Excellence Award for Innovative State Programs for its Maine Veterans’ Dental Network from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), according to a news release from Sarah Sherman, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services in Augusta.
Since 2011, the VA has recognized its state partners for programs and initiatives that support veterans in their respective states. The award was presented to MBVS Acting Deputy Director Steven Lanning by VA Secretary Denis Richard McDonough at the 2022 National Association of State Directors of Veterans Affairs (NASDVA) Mid-Winter Conference held in Alexandria, Virginia.
This year’s award is in recognition of the Bureau’s creation of the Maine Veterans’ Dental Network, which through a generous $100,000 grant from Northeast Delta Dental, connects veterans who cannot afford to pay out of pocket, do not have dental insurance, and/or do not receive their oral healthcare from the VA to participating dental clinics in the community. This is the Bureau’s fourth consecutive Pillar of Excellence Award, having been recognized previously for its 2020 Maine Justice Action Committee (improving services to justice affected veterans), 2019 work to end veterans’ homelessness, and 2018 veteran suicide prevention efforts.
“This well-deserved award is recognition of a critical service offered by Maine Veterans’ Dental Network (MVDN),” said Tom Raffio, President and CEO, Northeast Delta Dental. “Access to oral healthcare can increase a veterans’ confidence, restore their ability to eat and improve their overall wellbeing. So, we are grateful and honored for the platform that MVDN provides to carry out our mission of advancing the oral health of our underserved veterans.”
The MVDN currently consists of 22 participating dental clinics which are either non-profits or Federally Qualified Health Centers including: Community Dental (Biddeford, Farmington, Lewiston, Monson, Portland, and Rumford); Lincoln County Dental (Wiscasset); Kennebec Valley Family Dentistry (Augusta); Waterville Community Dental (Waterville); UNE Dental Clinic (Portland); UMA Dental Clinic (Bangor); Eastport Health Care (Eastport); Fish River Rural Health (Madawaska, Fort Kent and Eagle Lake); Katahdin Valley Health Center (Houlton, Millinocket, Patten, Ashland and Brownville); Greater Portland Health (Portland), and St. Croix Regional Family Health Center (Princeton).
“This program exemplifies best practices for providing access to dental care for veterans that would otherwise be unable to access it—and the program could be replicated across the nation,” stated Director David Richmond of the Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services, “To be recognized by our peers at NASDVA is truly an honor and we will continue to work to strengthen the program as the veterans have been incredibly grateful for the opportunity to address their dental issues – some that have gone unmet for years.”
The participating dental clinics can provide the following services under the grant: preventative, diagnostic, restorative, oral surgery, and major restorative. Services not provided under the grant include - dental implants, orthodontics, fixed bridges, telehealth or PPE charges.
To access the MVDN veterans must meet the following criteria:
- Be a Maine resident.
- Not 100% service-connected to the VA (meaning they don’t already receive dental care through Togus or the Bangor or Portland Community Based Outpatient Clinics).
- Cannot afford dental insurance.
- Cannot afford to pay for dental care out of pocket.
- For National Guard Only - Deployed on active duty for at least 180 days with the Maine Army National Guard or Air Guard or retired from the National Guard with (20) years of service. (Meets the national standard to be a considered a veteran.)
- DD-214 shows an Honorable or General Under Honorable conditions discharge.
“As we enter the second year of the Maine Veterans’ Dental Network it is so gratifying to connect with veterans all across the State of Maine and help them meet their oral healthcare needs,” noted Director of Strategic Partnerships Sarah Sherman, “This wouldn’t be possible without the participating dental clinics in our network and I want to extend my gratitude to them, their dedicated staff, and to Northeast Delta Dental. This is a shared recognition of creative thinking, financial commitment, and hard work.”
For more information or to access the Maine Veterans’ Dental Network, please contact Sarah Sherman at 207-430-5816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To review the Bureau’s online dental care information or needs assessment report go to -https://www.maine.gov/veterans/benefits/healthcare/dental_access_and_information.html
About Maine Bureau of Veterans’ Services
The Maine Bureau of Veterans' Services was established in 1947 by the State of Maine and is part of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management. Our mission is to help Mainers who served, and their loved ones, understand and navigate the benefits, services, and programs available to them. The Bureau does this by being a responsive, experienced, and dedicated advocate. The Bureau is headquartered at Camp Keyes and has seven field service offices located throughout the state and a claims office located at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Togus, Maine. The Bureau also operates the Maine Veterans Memorial Cemetery System which includes four veterans’ cemeteries. For more information about the Bureau or to request assistance, please visit our website at www.maine.gov/veterans.