IU dental school to help homeless veterans

Faculty and students from the Indiana University (IU) School of Dentistry will take part in a new project to make unemployed homeless veterans in Indianapolis more employable by giving them an improved dental appearance.

Karen Yoder, PhD, director of civic engagement and health policy, and a professor of preventive and community dentistry, applied for and received a $12,000 grant from the Dental Pipeline National Learning Institute for the project. The funds will be used to cover the costs of dental laboratory and oral surgery fees.

The initiative pairs the dental school with the Hoosier Veterans Assistance Foundation, a United Way nonprofit organization that provides transitional housing and basic needs to veterans and their families.

Working with case managers at the foundation's shelters in Indianapolis, faculty, assisted by students, will begin this month selecting veterans who seem most likely to get hired and maintain their employment.

If a medical evaluation is needed before beginning dental services, veterans selected for the program who don't have healthcare resources will be referred to IU School of Medicine's student-run, faculty-supported Student Outreach Clinic.

Criteria for the dental program include official discharge documentation, a previous record of employment, and a desire to become employed; participants must also agree to align with a social service agency that supports learning and maintain personal qualities that tend to sustain employment.

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