Our nation’s veterans certainly deserve the spotlight all the time. But in the month of July, the spotlight shines a little brighter as, collectively, we recognize and honor our nation’s veterans as we celebrate the birth of the United States of America.

Just in time for this year’s Fourth of July festivities, a new law has passed that will make it easier for all veterans to receive needed healthcare and will also benefit the dentists and physicians who work for Veterans Affairs facilities.

The Veterans Affairs Maintaining Systems and Strengthening Integrated Outside Networks Act — or MISSION Act — was signed into law June 6. This legislation will streamline the department’s community care programs. It will also ensure that veterans don’t experience a lapse in healthcare services, including preventive dental care and treatment.

The legislation also includes a provision that can be a little difficult to understand, but let’s break it down.

Basically, the provision designates a limited number of scholarships for dentists and physicians under the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Professional Scholarship Program among others. These scholarships will be used to increase the amount of education debt reduction available through the Education Debt Reduction Program.

The American Dental Association (ADA) supported the bill and was represented in meetings with senior staff on the House Veteran’s Affairs Committee. The ADA will continue to monitor how this important program is implemented and will provide dentists and dental students with the relevant information for applying to these scholarships once the program is in place should they have interest in working for the VA.

As America’s leading oral health advocate, the ADA works tirelessly to influence public policies affecting the practice of dentistry and the oral health of the American public.

In Washington, D.C., the ADA lobbies Congress and the administration — fighting for things that matter to dentists and the patients they serve. The ADA also provides technical support to help state dental societies advance their respective policy agendas. For dentists who want to add their voices to the more than 161,000 ADA dentist members who make it possible for dentistry to be heard, click here.