David DiPietro, the State Assemblyman of NY on Thursday unveiled a bill that, if passed, would provide free dental coverage to all veterans living in New York State.

DiPietro’s bill would set aside an initial $5 million to create dental insurance, which would help veterans with coverage not covered by the federal Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently, it has been explained that only veterans with an estimated disability of at least 70% are eligible for full dental coverage through the VA.

“I am shocked that this is not already a service in place,” said DiPietro, whose press conference quickly took a partisan tone, during which he suggested that Democrats in the Legislature block such legislation, and instead put more attention to “extending privileges and services to illegal aliens and criminals.”

DiPietro, a Republican based in East Aurora, followed up by quoting Ronald Reagan while implying veterans seeking for Dental care in NY shouldn’t be charged anything.

“Their lives remind us that freedom doesn’t come easy. This has a cost. It imposes a burden and, just as those we commemorate were willing to sacrifice, we must also, in a less definitive and less heroic way, be ready to give of ourselves, “he said, recalling the words of the former president.”The immortal words of Reagan are the reason this law must be passed.”

His proposal is not a simple gift for all veterans. Anyone receiving similar or better care through private insurers would not be eligible for state-funded coverage. Veterans classified as disabled at 50% or less would be faced with a share to be calculated based on their income.

State Senator Robert Ortt, who served in Afghanistan, supported DiPietro’s bill and proposed similar legislation in the Senate. They were surrounded by many veterans who also expressed their support for the bill. Santos Lopez is working with Orange County Choppers, the motorcycle company that collaborated with DiPietro on a project to create a traveling Vietnamese wall in a permanent home in East Aurora. He recalled a conversation with DiPietro during which he spoke about veteran’s dental coverage, or rather, the lack of it.

Those who stress the importance of dental care and oral health emphasize that oral infection can enter the patient’s bloodstream and expose that person to other health complications elsewhere in the body. It is also important to have a healthy-looking mouth when looking for a job.

Stephen McCloskey, one of the veterans present, said a $1,000 dental bill recently hit him. That, he said in the room, puts families like his own in a situation of increased financial stress as they continue their transition to civilian life.

“Part of this fight is financial. If they are dealing with a thousand dollar dental bill, this finance is their gas, their electricity, their water or their food, “said McCloskey.”When you review a (legislative) dental bill for veterans, the transition is ten times to a thousand times stress-free, and this makes it easier for them to re-enter the workforce.”