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Contact: AJ Gamble
Media Relations

Free Dental Program for Indigent Veterans Announced

Pensacola, FL, August 24, 2016 – Across Florida’s First Congressional District, only 50 percent of adults have visited a dentist in the past year, and correspondingly, 58 percent have had teeth removed because of decay or disease (Florida Department of Health.) Many of the 65,000 Veterans who call Florida’s First Congressional District home face challenges related to dental care. Without access to affordable dental care, indigent Veterans face the onset of debilitating oral issues that create negative impacts upon their health.

In partnership, Escambia county’s United Way, Florida Department of Health and over 29 local licensed dentists formed the Emerald Coast Honor Smile program. On March 16, 2017, Emerald Coast Honor Smile will offer free dental care for Veterans who have been honorably discharged, lack dental insurance and live at or below the federal poverty level per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Services include cleanings, extractions, fillings, root canals and dentures.

“As a Veteran, I’m proud the department can play a role in the Emerald Coast Honor Smile Program,” said Florida Surgeon General and Secretary of Health, Dr. John Armstrong. He continued by saying, “Making these resources available to improve the health of our Veterans, we continue to honor their sacrifices for our country.”

“Dignity with a healthy smile is another aspect of Veteran care that cannot be ignored,” United Way Board member, Deborah Moore stated. She further stated, “As a Veteran myself . . . I am proud to see Emerald Coast Honor Smile become available.”

For more information about Emerald Coast Honor Smile, please call (850) 434-3157 or visit www.unitedwayescambia.org/honor-smile.


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Why can only program dentists perform the dental procedures for the veterans? 

Volunteer licensed dentist who have always been in good standing with the Florida Department of Health will perform the dental procedures. We want to make sure that these dentists are covered from a liability standpoint from the state and that only the highest caliber dentists whose reputation is without reproach are providing care for the veterans in our program.

Who will process the veteran’s information?

The veteran will call in to Escambia County United Way’ 2-11 call center who will process and verify the veteran’s information and will assign them to the volunteer dentist that is closest to the home address of the veteran.

How much will this cost the veteran?

Each veteran will be required to pay a $25 membership fee per rolling 12 months.

Why does the veteran have to pay the fee?

The membership fee can be paid by the veteran, family member, or a sponsor. The fee is to help defer costs and help minimize abuse of the   system.

How many times can the veteran partake in services per year?

Veterans can participate as many times as necessary per year, however, after each procedure they must call in and will be placed at the bottom of the list.

What procedures are included?

Procedures will include cleanings, crowns, root canals, dentures, fillings, and other emergency dental procedures.

What are the qualifications to enter the program?

Clients must be veterans that have received an honorable discharge and indicated as such on their DD-214 and must fall at or below the federal poverty level.

What territory will this program cover?

This program will include all veterans meeting the qualifications that live in the First Congressional District of Florida.

How many dentists are participating in the program?

Currently there are 27 volunteer dentist participating in the program.

What is the average wait for a veteran to be seen?

Our goal is to have veterans seek the next business day but no later than a week from their call.

How can dentists sign up to be a part of the program?

Dentists must sign up with United Way and be trained by the Volunteer Services division of the Florida Department of Health.

Will the dentist’s malpractice insurance cover any accidents?

The State of Florida’ volunteer health service will provide coverage for the dentists that are

volunteering in the program.

Why is this program only in the First Congressional District of Florida?

This is a pilot program and if successful will be replicated throughout the state.

How long does it take to process veteran’s information?

It typically takes about a business day to process the veteran’s information.

What if the veteran does not have their DD-214?

The veteran can request a new one online or the 2-11 operator can order one for them.

Are veteran family members covered also?

No this program is only applicable to veterans with an honorable discharge and fall at or below the federal poverty line.

How can donations be made to the program?

Donations can be made through Escambia County’s United Way.

Why will this program not service regular citizens?

The Florida Department of Health already has a dental program for indigent citizens this one will be to serve those who served for us. A non-veteran citizen can call into 2-11 and will be provided with information for complimentary dental services in their area, however, this program will only cover veterans.

Why can‘t veterans use their current dentist?

The veteran must call in to 2-11 and be assigned to the next available dentist on the list. These dentists have been vetted by the state and are enrolled in the volunteer heath services malpractice insurance provided by the state.

How and why will veterans’ status be authenticated?

Escambia County United Way will collect the veteran’s DD-214 and have them fill out a financial declaration that will be kept on file and sent in once a year to the Florida Department of Health in compliance with the state’s requirements. We want to make sure that the resources are utilized on veterans that can truly benefit from our services.

Call for Engagement

To learn if you of someone you know meet the criteria and need assistance, please contact United Way’s 2-11 Northwest Florida by simply dialing 2-11 from any phone in Northwest Florida. If you are outside the Northwest Florida area dial (850) 434-3157.

While all dentists provide their services for free, Veterans currently need your help to cover administration fees and incurred lab expenses. If you would like to support a Veteran in need and the Emerald Coast Honor Smile program, contact United Way Escambia at (850) 434-3157 or visit our website.

Organizational/Project Contact Information

AJ Gamble
Media Relations