James Snyder, USMC, Veteran Advocate for the Adopt a Vet Dental Program (AAVD) is a true success story. Jim is a Marine Corps veteran and served in the 1st Marine Division in the 80’s. He had a great job in the golf industry and also worked with the California Highway Patrol raising money for the Widows and Orphans Fund. Through that volunteerism, he developed a deep understanding of the value of giving back.
Unfortunately, Jim’s job and health feel apart when he was faced with a disease that affected his teeth, jaw and nerves. He was in pain every day and his teeth were cracking so badly that most had to be removed. He battled a vicious cycle of self-medication and anger, quit his job and moved to Reno. His doctor at the VA referred him to the AAVD and he waited for treatment for 18 months. When he got the call that it was his time to receive his dental care, it was hard for him to accept that something good was about to happen. Jim also had a hard time asking for charity, as he had worked hard all his life.
Jim’s experience going through the program was an incredible one and he feels lucky to have had the care of two great volunteer dentists, Dr. Joe McElhinney and James E. Jones, DDS, MSD. His dental care was quite extensive. He received an upper denture and lower partial denture, which allowed him to smile again and gain back his self-worth. He felt so much gratitude for the care and work that was given to him that he felt he needed to give back, so he became a volunteer for AAVD. After several years of volunteering, Jim was hired by the program as a part-time veteran advocate and fundraiser, positions he’s held for the past two years.
Jim truly enjoys helping other veterans who may have a hard time asking for help and walking them through the process. He says that seeing the “before” and “after” photos of himself and the other veterans who have been helped by AAVD continue to motivate him today.