This month’s family focus is about a veteran that found a post-military career with Delta Dental which allows him to assist military families and their health.
Joe Montoya is the Gulf Region TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP) Representative for Delta Dental and has seven children, three step children, and 30 grandchildren. Altogether, they have 1,120 teeth (not counting wisdom), but there’s more to Joe’s story than a career in oral healthcare.
He is a Marine veteran, but Joe’s involvement in the military actually started when he was a Navy brat. Throughout his lifetime, he has not only moved 44 times between his father’s PCS moves and his own, but he has dedicated his time to helping military families, especially through his work with Delta Dental.
“If you have bad oral health, you’re going to have bad overall health,” Joe explains.
Delta Dental asked Joe to interview for a job in 1997 after he had worked as a health benefits advisor for the National Guard in Utah. He says that this opportunity was the best thing to ever happen to him. Throughout his time working for the company, Joe has had numerous roles, including as the National Guard/ Reserve Liaison for Delta Dental in all 54 States and territories and serving as the West Coast and now as the Gulf region’s TRDP Representative.
Joe notes, TRDP is really a milestone in itself because it’s opening up healthcare opportunities for people who otherwise wouldn’t qualify. It not only covers routine dental procedures such as exams, cleanings, fluorides, sealants, and x-rays, but also more advanced dental work like fillings, root canals, gum and oral surgery, implants, crowns and dentures, as well as orthodontics. Retired service members, National Guard/Reserve members and their families all have the option to enroll in TRDP.
He explains that this is monumental because Reserve and National Guard members did not used to have this option. TRDP brings the cost of dental coverage down for reserve component retirees to the same price as it would cost them if they were above age 60, or if they were an active duty retiree.
Joe’s military career
His mission to help families receive the health benefits they deserve stems from his own military experience. The Montoya family have a rich military history that dates back to WWII. Joe’s father enlisted in the Navy in January of 1942, right after the Attack on Pearl Harbor. Following WWII, his father stayed active duty, so Joe grew up all over the world and even attended four different high schools. Growing up, Joe had the opportunity to live in Japan, Saipan, Uruguay, Argentina and all up and down the coast of California. Joe notes that when he lived in South America, his mother used to cook dinner for all the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group every Sunday night and the Marines used to tease him about not being tough enough to be a Marine.
When Joe left high school, he decided to leave South America and went to college in California for about a month before he realized that he really wanted to enlist in the military.
Joe says, “I called my dad and he said, ‘Son, go join the Air Force and get into computers. Whatever you do, don’t join the #&@ Marines.’”
But Joe enlisted in the Marine Corps anyway and served as 3rd Marine Air Wing in Vietnam. After Vietnam, Joe continued to serve on active duty for the Marine Corps.
Life after the military
Joe notes that his last duty station in Hawaii was a really incredible experience for him and his family. While active duty in Hawaii, he also attended BYU Hawaii and pursued beekeeping and papaya farming. His papaya farming partner continues to grow the Kamiya Gold Papaya. After separating from the Marines, Joe added a career in Hawaiian real estate. However, in 1980, Joe and his family moved to Utah. He worked full time for the National Guard as a health benefits advisor and NCO Line of Duty Officer.
Delta Dental started their OCHAMPUS Dependents Dental Plan * DELTA (DDP*DELTA) in 1987, now called TDP, which provided the option for active duty families to have dental insurance. This program changed the game for not only Joe’s career path but also healthcare for military families all over the country.
Joe says, “I made it my own campaign to promote the Delta Dental DDP and oral health.”
Educating soldiers on making healthy choices
Joe first met the Utah representative from Delta Dental in 1991. She asked if she could give a presentation, so Joe brought soldiers to hear about the program and the importance of oral health.
Now, as a TRICARE Retiree Dental Program (TRDP), Veterans Affairs Dental Insurance Program (VADIP) and a Delta Dental Federal Employee Dental Insurance Program (FEDVIP) representative himself, Joe reaches out to Military Installation Retirement Service Officers, dental clinics in the VA and active duty members who will become veterans one day, as well as The Military Coalition.
Joe explains that approximately 90% of veterans with VA healthcare do not have dental coverage available at the VA clinics. However, the TRDP–now 20 years old, has 1.68 million lives covered now. For veterans who aren’t military retired but are enrolled in the VA Healthcare system, they have the VADIP to take care of them and their Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Veterans Administration (CHAMPVA) family members.
Delta Dental has changed the game for military families and Joe Montoya is proud to be one of their representatives. The Montoya family has a long history of serving this country, and now Joe gets to support those serving today.
“I am a veteran, so I have to take care of these folks,” Joe added.Read comments