Reno Veteran Pays it Forward, Earns Prestigious Award Upon Receiving Dental Care from Local Non-Profit
Reno, Nev. (August 19, 2015) — “The hardest thing for a veteran to do is ask for and accept help,” said James (Jim) Snyder, a veteran who served in the U. S. Marine Corps and now dedicates his time to giving back to the Marines and other military services and veterans support groups, most prominently the Adopt a Vet Dental Program (AAVD). A program of the Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs, AAVD provides pro-bono dental care to veterans in need and who don’t qualify for care at the VA dental clinic. Snyder, who will be honored as Veteran of the Month for August by the Nevada Department of Veterans Services, credits AAVD for helping him be able to smile again (literally) and now makes it his mission to help hundreds of other veterans in need find their lost smiles too.
“I’m a true success story of the Adopt a Vet Dental program,” said Snyder. “My job and my health fell apart when I was faced with a disease that affected my teeth, jaw and nerves. I was in pain everyday and my teeth were cracking so badly that most had to be removed. I was on the wait list for the program for 18 months and when my time came it was hard for me accept that something good was about to happen and I also had a hard time asking for charity, as I had worked hard all of my life.”
Among the 95% of veterans who are denied treatment by the VA Dental Clinic, Snyder was referred to AAVD and received complete restorative dental care (pro-bono) by local dentists, Dr. McElhinney and Dr. Jones, with donated costs of $10,880. In order to be treated at the VA Dental Clinic, a veteran must be classified as disabled (100% service connected), have been injured in the jaw or mouth while in service, or have been a prisoner of war, which makes it impossible for the vast majority of veterans in need to receive care there. These underserved veterans are astonishingly surviving on an average income of $900/month and cannot afford dental care anywhere else.
Snyder says he felt so much gratitude for the care and work that was provided to him by AAVD that he felt the need to give back and has volunteered for AAVD ever since he received his treatment in 2012. In addition to being an integral part of AAVD’s monthly veteran orientation program where he talks to the veterans about what it’s like to go through the program, their commitment, and the dos and don’ts during treatment, he also spends time speaking one-on-one with veterans entering the program, answering any questions they may have, and transports them to their dental appointments. He also volunteers for a major Northern Nevada Dental Health Programs fundraiser that benefits AAVD, the Joel F. Glover Charity Golf Tournament, for which he has helped raise $98,000 over the last two years.
“Jim is an invaluable asset to AAVD and an inspiration to other veterans when he shares his personal story during the program orientation and AAVD presentations to other veteran organizations,” said AAVD Founder Linda Haigh.
In addition to his service to AAVD, Snyder has established a fundraiser for the Nevada Honor Flight that arranges no-cost travel for eligible WWII veterans to visit memorials in Washington, D.C. He recruited the Marine Corps League, Wal-Mart and local KKOH radio and raised $2,400 in five hours. And again teaming with Wal-Mart, Snyder and broadcaster KKOH collected 11,000 pairs of socks and sent them to a Marine battalion in Afghanistan. He also, in collaboration with the Korean War Veterans Association, provided jackets to 368 veterans who could not afford one during the cold winter season.
Snyder will be honored at the Veteran of the Month ceremony at 9:30 am on August 27 at the Governor’s Mansion in Carson City located at 606 Mountain Street. Governor Brian Sandoval will present him with his award and friends, family, associates, veterans and supporters of veterans are encouraged to attend. Veteran of the Month award recipients are chosen based on their assistance to former veterans and support to active duty personnel and to the community.
For more information or to speak with Snyder please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-544-9647.