Everybody loves a nut, except when it breaks your tooth

It is hard to imagine that a recently-discharged veteran would forget about his or her various benefits but I could see how it might happen. You are young. You just got out of the service. The world is your hot dog. You are going to party until the cow’s cows come home. Oh sure, you’re going to need a job or go to college the next semester. The point here, if you meet the qualifications, quite a few veterans benefits are available to you. You can find those out from the Department of Veterans Affairs, your local veterans service officer or state veterans agency.

One of the great benefits, which is very limited, is the dental benefit from the VA.  Here are the guidelines:

“Recently discharged Veterans whose

discharge record (DD214) clearly

indicates either that dental services were

not provided within 90 days of

discharge or that dental treatment was

not completed, who served on active

duty 90 days or more, and who apply

for VA dental care within 90 days of

separation from active duty, may receive

a one-time treatment for dental

conditions and follow up treatment for

that specific dental condition.

For more information regarding

services available to returning Active

Duty, National Guard and Reserve

service members of Operations

Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom

visit¬† www.oefoif.va.gov.”

My first job outside of the Navy, which you will know if you follow this blog, was as a firefighter. After I started working I had heard about the dental benefit. I didn’t know a dentist as I was still new in town. But my co-workers told me about a local boy who — as I would sort of end up doing — worked his way through undergraduate school at the fire department. The local boy, man, ended up going to dental school. I saw Sid for my “post-service, one-time dental appointment” as I suppose you could call it. I recall Sid had a very sweet and pretty local girl working as an assistant. No, I didn’t end up marrying her. I didn’t even date her. I did end up dating my physician’s nurse. She left me on a New Year’s Eve date to go off somewhere with some girl. That kind of sucked, actually. I can’t remember what all Sidney did on my “one-time” dental appointment. I knew that Sid and Holly, the pretty girl, cleaned and X-rayed my teeth. I think maybe Dr. Sid filled a cavity.

Less than a week after my having found a new dentist, I was sitting at home, minding my own business, when “CRACK” went one of my left side, lower molars. I broke a tooth while eating a Corn Nut. Yes, a freaking Corn Nut! Well, I went back to see my dentist. He said I needed a crown and that it was going to cost about $250. Say what? This was 1978. I just started my job. I was going through fire rookie school. I grossed $815 a month. I had taken out a small personal loan to get an apartment, well, it wasn’t even an apartment. It was a room in a boarding house owned by the town’s most infamous slum lords. I didn’t know whether I could get another loan for a crown.

Dr. Sid said that maybe the VA would pay for it. The eternal pessimist, I said that, no, this was a one-time deal. Sidney said, “Well, let’s just give it a try and if not, we’ll work something out.”

I don’t know what happened. Maybe the stars converged. Maybe Jupiter aligned with Mars. But the VA paid for my gold molar crown. I still got that sucker, too. Sidney had to re-cement it once. I’ve had it reset probably two or three other times.

But you know what? I never ate another Corn Nut.