- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

Is there any way you can direct me in obtaining three root canals? Will be 70 in July. No pension … no kidding. Thank you.

Bob P.
Via the Internet

Dear Bob:

Dental benefits are provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) according to law. In some instances, VA is authorized to provide extensive dental care, while in other cases treatment may be limited. The following is a synopsis describes dental eligibility criteria and contains information to assist veterans in understanding their eligibility for VA dental care.

The eligibility for outpatient dental care is not the same as for most other VA medical benefits and is categorized into classes. If you are eligible for VA dental care under Class I, IIC, or IV, then you are eligible for any necessary dental care to maintain or restore oral health and masticatory function, including repeat care. Other classes have time and/or service limitations.

Veterans who have a service-connected compensable dental disability or condition are considered to be Class 1 and are entitled to treatment for any dental condition. This is also true for former prisoners of war.

Veterans who have service-connected disabilities rated 100 percent disabling, or are unemployable and paid at the 100 percent rate due to service-connected conditions, are entitled to any needed dental care. (Please note: Veterans paid at the 100 percent rate based on a temporary rating — such as extended hospitalization for a service-connected disability, convalescence or pre-stabilization — are not eligible for comprehensive outpatient dental services based on this temporary rating.)

Recently discharged veterans (within 180) may apply for dental care days of discharge or release (under conditions other than dishonorable) from a period of active duty of 90 days or more during the Persian Gulf War era. They may apply for one-time dental care if their DD 214 certificate of discharge does not indicate that a complete dental examination and all appropriate dental treatment had been rendered prior to discharge.

Shaft notes

• Kudos to Fernando O. Rivera who earned two prestigious honors at the American College of Health Care Executives (ACHE) annual meeting on March 22. The first was the Federal Excellence in Healthcare Leadership Award (FEHLA), secured for his dynamic and innovative management skills in the federal health care arena. For his engaging mentoring skills with residents and fellows participating in the VHA Graduate Healthcare Administration Training Program (GHATP), Mr. Rivera garnered the Veterans Health Administration’s Preceptor of the Year Award.

Mr. Rivera leads a health care delivery system of four medical centers and a team of more than 7,000 professionals in the mid-Atlantic region for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

The highly coveted FEHLA award recognizes just one of the 1,800 federally employed ACHE members who makes significant and impactful contributions above and beyond the daily norm to the college, and who demonstrate a deep commitment to mentoring, lifelong learning and professional development.

USAF Brigadier Gen. (retired) Donald B. Wagner, commissioned the award to honor federal employees.

“I’m deeply grateful to Brig. Gen. Wagner and the college for recognizing me. Personally, I have benefited from ACHE, and in turn, this motivates me to develop future health care leaders,” Mr. Rivera said. “Many people throughout my career invested in me, and in turn, I want to pay it forwards to help future leaders navigate their professional development with VA.”

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