Free Dental Care for Our Veterans on ‘Day of Service’

Aspen Dental and Got Your 6 are working around the clock to help our heroes on this key health issue

Got Your 6, a veteran support group that works to positively influence the perception of vets in media, has teamed up with Aspen Dental this year to provide a “Day of Service,” during which veterans can receive free dental care.

The Day of Service is Saturday, June 24.

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“Over the past three years, Got Your 6 has partnered with Aspen Dental to not only help veterans break down the barriers they face in accessing dental care — such as cost and lack of insurance — but to help raise awareness about the need for oral health care among our population,” Bill Rausch of Got Your 6 told LifeZette.

Rausch is executive director of the group, as well as an Iraq veteran.

“We know that veterans are already problem-solvers and civic assets in small towns and big cities across this country,” he added. “Every veteran we empower by giving him or her a healthy smile means one more person who is more likely to be an outgoing, engaged leader in their community.”

LifeZette spoke with Dr. Jere Gillan, a dentist based in Orlando, Florida, who is taking part in this unique day. He shared thoughts on why oral care is so important for America’s veterans — and what all Americans need to know about this day and this aspect of health care.

Question (LifeZette): How did you get involved with the Day of Service?
Answer (Gillan): I had been with Aspen for two years before the Healthy Mouth Movement (HMM) began, so when the Day of Service became an idea, I was all in. It becomes apparent very soon after entering the health care setting that not everyone is able to get [needed] care because of numerous barriers such as affordability, time, access to providers, and more. So when a professional like myself gets the chance to give back, we grab it!

Q: Why is this unique day — as well as dental health overall — so important to our veterans?
A: Veterans, we have found, are a special group in the population of people who have difficulty getting dental care. Most veterans have a medical coverage plan but no dental, which can be devastating to the overall quality of life.

Many veterans have challenges adjusting to the private sector, and if they have teeth issues, it can become a barrier to their ability to succeed or even gain employment. This day can fix that issue for thousands of veterans. Sometimes a simple extraction is all that’s needed. Sometimes it’s a full set of teeth. We aim to listen to the veterans and get to the core of their needs and concerns, and make something positive happen from it. We have heard so many stories of how lives have been changed, and it’s why we have almost 100 percent participation with our office teams and offices open.

Related: Look Who’s ‘Certified’ by the Got Your 6 Group

Q: What more can be done to help provide services like these to veterans?
A: People in general can help raise awareness of the dental health care crisis in this country. Some areas of this country are at a third-world level when it comes to access to care or dental health. Veterans are no different. Aspen Dental is on a mission to give America a healthy mouth — and our efforts to raise awareness are the industry standard, but we can’t do it alone.

We need people talking about this Day of Service and the Healthy Mouth Movement so that we can take care of even more veterans. And maybe we can get other organizations that provide similar services to do the same. If any of us can help in any way — then we should.

“Some areas of the country are at a third-world level on dental health care.”

Q: Any other key thoughts about this subject?
A: It’s important to note we not only do the one Day of Service — we have the Mouth Mobile program, which takes a team of support people and providers and travels all over the country for two to three months and makes many stops during that period. These folk are the epitome of dedication to the cause — they travel with the van to make sure as many people as possible are taken care of as possible at each location.

Note: Veterans interested in Day of Service can click here for more information.