Veterans who are looking for work may be able to smile a bit brighter during their job hunt with help from the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund.
The non-profit organization is restoring confidence for several veterans after providing much needed dental care free of charge.
For last decade, the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund has been a leading force to ensure veterans have safe and affordable housing.
However, the new dental program is giving veterans another reason to stay encouraged, especially those who are dealing with job loss during the pandemic.
“I feel confident to be out in the working world again,” said Bob Roberts, a veteran from South Florida. “I was an airline pilot and I lost my job. As we all know, the airline industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic and during that time I chipped a good portion of my front tooth off.”
Roberts was unable to cover the cost of dental care until he connected with the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund.
He says the lack of dental care added more strain while navigating the unemployment crisis amidst the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, I have not been able to find a job,” Roberts said. “When you have to go back into the workforce and start doing interviews, it’s very important to have a nice lined up smile for an interview.”
Wounded Veterans Relief Fund recently teamed up with Dr. Tom Roberts, a dentist in West Palm Beach, to participate in th program and support veterans in need of dental care.
“Like many veterans, so many of us do not qualify for dental support through the VA,” said Mike Durkee, Executive Director for the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund. “A veteran must be 100% disabled before he or she can receive dental through the VA.”
As per the Federal Register Notice of Intent for the VA Pilot Program, due to defined eligibility for dental care, the Department of Veterans Affairs only provides dental benefits to 8 percent of the veterans enrolled in the VA health care system every year.
The remaining 92 percent of veterans use private dental insurance, pay out of pocket for dental services, rely on pro bono or discounted dental clinics and services, or forego critical dental services.
“Our program with Dr. Tom Roberts has already saved two lives,” said Durkee. “One with oral cancer and another with a tremendous bacterial infection that could have blocked her breathing all together if not treated.”
Roberts says the airline industry appears to be improving after receiving recent calls about pilot positions that could be available in the near future.
He’s ready to return to work with a smile.
“I just want to say thank you very much to the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund,” Roberts said. “They enabled me to feel confident again and get back into the workforce.”
Wounded Veterans Relief Fund is an independent 501(c)(3), founded in 2009.
Donations from the community make it possible for the organization to continue its mission of providing emergency financial assistance to Florida’s disabled veterans.