According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 107,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Schweitzer Fellow Inga Keithly (right), a Tufts dental student who is in the Navy herself, has dedicated her Schweitzer Fellowship year to addressing these veterans’ unmet oral health needs. (10 percent of homeless veterans say that dental care is their most needed service.)
Today (Veterans Day) from noon to 4 p.m., as part of her Schweitzer project, Inga is leading a team of Tufts dental student volunteers in conducting free oral cancer screenings; discussing oral health care; and distributing free toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans.
“When these men and women get back to the United States after risking their lives for our freedom and right to live, they are often given limited options for new jobs, lives and livelihoods,” the Tufts-Schweitzer Fellow says. “I would like to serve these men and women and make sure they get back what they gave.”
Keithly hopes to establish a lasting relationship between Tufts dental students and the clientele served by the New England Center for Homeless Veterans.
“There is such potential to open the doors on both ends,” she says. “Tufts can serve the veterans, and the veterans can be a source of education for Tufts dental students.”