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ADA opposes reduction in rank of military dental chiefs

June 04, 2015

By Craig Palmer

Washington  — The Association urged Congress in June 3-4 letters to House and Senate Armed Services Committees to oppose legislation that would reduce the current statutory ranks of the Army and Air Force chief dental officers.

As Congress debated the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, the Association objected to a provision in the Senate version of the legislation that would reduce the rank for the chief dental officers of the United States Army Dental Corps and the United States Air Force Dental Corps from the current statutory grade of major general to “a grade above the grade of colonel…”

The Association thanked bipartisan leaders of the House Armed Services Committee for the recent House passage of defense reauthorization legislation “extending the current law as it relates to the military ranks of dental officers, which will ensure the continuation of quality oral health care for our nation’s service members.” The House-passed NDAA would continue “parity of grade” for the chief dental officers. 

But the Association objected to grade reduction language in Section 502 of the Senate version of the NDAA. “Reduction in rank of the chief dental officer will result in a diminution of oral health readiness at a time when the services have just begun to achieve the overall dental health levels necessary to support national defense,” the ADA told bipartisan leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“The ADA is also concerned that this change will have a negative impact on military dental officers,” said the letter signed by Dr. Maxine Feinberg, Association president, and Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin, ADA executive director and chief operating officer. “These dentists will view this as a step backward in the recognition of the importance of oral health and, by extension, the importance of their contributions to national defense. The ADA is very concerned that this change will have a negative effect on the recruiting and retention of dental officers.”

The Association urged the House Armed Services Committee to “insist on the House position” during House-Senate negotiations to resolve differences in the bills. If the House and Senate pass bills with differing provisions, a temporary joint committee or conference committee would be formed to iron out the differences including any differences over “parity of grade.”