Linda J. Haigh, Founder of the Adopt a Vet Dental Program has devoted over 30 years advocating for low-income veterans and seniors. She worked at the University of Nevada, Reno for 10 years in a Senior Outreach Program where she discovered 60 low-income veterans living in subsidized housing in dire need of dental care. Linda soon discovered that the vast majority of our veterans (90.5%) do not qualify for dental care at the VA because the qualifications are so restrictive. This seriously unmet need for dental care became the driving force for Adopt a Vet Dental Program (AAVD) which Linda and her husband, Wayne, founded in April 2010.
In June 2013, AAVD merged with the Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs (NNDHP) to combine efforts, accelerate the process for providing low-income veterans with dental care, and to provide sustainability and growth for the program.
This has become a win-win situation for AAVD, NNDHP, and our low-income veterans.
Currently, AAVD has recruited 125 dental professionals who have donated over $4.85 Million Dollars in services and has provided dental care for close to 1,000 low-income veterans in Northern Nevada. To our knowledge, there is no other program like ours in the United States, and AAVD received the Newman’s Own and Fisher House Award in 2014 for our innovative approach to providing dental care to low-income veterans who cannot qualify for dental care at the VA or afford to see a dentist.
This program is dedicated in memory of J.C., a veteran, who could not find affordable dental care for his decayed and abscessed teeth. He died when the infection went to his heart – he was only in his 40’s.