The respect that the nation’s veterans now possess has grown exponentially in the decades since the Vietnam War. From that low point, virtually all aspects of society now recognize the sacrifice these individuals perform for all Americans, which means offering special discounts and deals among other enticements.

In the latter category, one of those deals was the brainchild of both Melissa Jarrell, a dentist from Kokomo, Indiana, and her staff. The original goal on their part was to find the proper way to give back to the community, with the group ultimately deciding to hold a day’s worth of free dental treatment for local veterans. They dubbed the day, Smile for Vets.

This idea was first crafted more than four years ago, with the success helping bring in additional dentists to handle what’s become a steady stream of patients on a specific date. The 2017 edition has come and gone with the largest group of veterans yet, a popularity that’s already allowed for a date for the 2018 day for veterans to be set.

The program works with a national non-profit organization known as Dentistry from the Heart. The group offers dental treatment for anyone who might otherwise be unable to afford it, unlike the veteran-specific nature of Jarrell’s plan. That organization began through the work of a Florida dentist named Dr. Vincent Monticciolo in 2001, with the number of people helped now growing closer to 50,000 across the country.

Teddy is Dr. Jarrell’s “therapy dog” in training. He is listed as part of the staff at her the dentist’s office

Besides the sacrifice exhibited by those veterans, Jarrell was also compelled to action by the fact that the combination of things that negatively affect veterans. These include things like benefit cuts, uneven service from VA hospitals and the often-great distance they need to travel to simply get treatment. She had one specific goal during the course of the day.

“We’re hoping that every person can leave free of infection and pain and with a cleaning of their teeth,” Jarrell said. “Usually I ask the patients ‘What would you like to have done today?’ We try to take care of their chief complaint.”

The veterans who were able to take advantage of this had a variety of dental ills, though Jarrell had very basic goals at the core of the services that were being provided. Standard teeth cleaning, eliminating any chance of infection and taking away the pain caused by these concerns were at the forefront.

Other options available to the first 100 veterans that came on September 8 included screenings for oral cancer as well as tips on how to maintain the right oral hygiene. Those that came later expressed their appreciation once they had been treated, with some traveling from beyond Howard County, where Kokomo is located.

Jarrell’s philanthropy resulted in other businesses in the Kokomo area also providing support for the event. Over the last few decades, it’s been estimated that she has helped to provide the equivalent of $215,000 of various forms of dentistry, with the fifth edition for Veterans coming up next September 7, 2018.

Another awesome service helping veterans: Connected Warriors. Check out the video below.

Are you thankful for Dr. Jarrell’s gift to veterans? Be sure to thank a vet for his/her service every chance you get and SHARE this story today!

Source: Kokomo Tribune