The Adopt a Vet Dental Program (AAVD) was founded in April 2010 by Wayne and Linda Haigh in Reno, Nevada. In June 2013, AAVD joined forces and merged with the Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs (NNDHP), the nonprofit arm of the Northern Nevada Dental Society. In August 2019, AAVD became their own nonprofit organization and continue their mission to provide dental care to low-income veterans who do not qualify at the VA or cannot afford to see a dentist.
Discovering the Need for Care
Before retiring from the University of Nevada, Reno as the Sanford Center for Aging, Senior Outreach Services (SOS) Community Outreach Coordinator, Linda found 60 low-income veterans living in subsidized housing at Carville Park Apartments in Reno that needed assistance. It was this group of veterans who helped her understand their need for dental care. Wayne and Linda naturally thought all veterans received dental care at the VA and they soon learned that a shocking 90% of veterans do not qualify for dental care at the Reno VA because the qualifications are so restrictive. A veteran must be 100% service connected (disabled), injured in the jaw while in service, or a prisoner of war. That leaves out the vast majority of veterans who do not qualify which has caused an epidemic of oral health disease among our veterans in Northern Nevada.
A Driving Force
This seriously unmet need for dental care became the driving force for the Adopt a Vet Dental Program. In 2014, AAVD was awarded the Newman’s Own and Fisher House Award for its creative and innovative approach to provide dental care to veterans. AAVD recruits dental professionals to provide pro bono dental care to low-income veterans and raises funds to offset dental lab and operational costs. With the generosity and goodwill of our volunteer dentists, grantors, donors and State funds, AAVD has become part of the solution to addressing this overwhelming challenge among our veterans.