Patriotism comes in many forms.
Veterans across the country are smiling even wider this Fourth of July thanks to one exceptionally generous chain of dental clinics. According to Fox News, nearly 400 Aspen Dental practices in 35 states provided free dental care to 6,000 veterans across the country on Saturday as part of the company’s Healthy Mouth Movement.
One vet, 69-year-old Ken Hulme from Fort Myers, Florida, who served as a combat photographer in the Air Force, drove an hour for his appointment in Naples. Hulme told Naples Daily News that he hadn’t had a proper cleaning in years, and remained in good spirits even though he needed one bottom tooth pulled and all his top teeth removed. The staff even fabricated dentures for him that same day.
"We're treating whatever we can treat the same day," Brent Rigor, office manager at Aspen Dental in Naples told Naples Daily News. "The veterans come in and we'll ask them what is bothering them and treat them. ... These veterans haven't been to the dentist because of money."
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Like many other vets, dental care isn’t one of the benefits Hulme receives from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs—those are reserved for veterans considered 100 percent disabled or who sustained a service-related injury to the mouth. Since the start of the Healthy Mouth Movement in 2014, Aspen Dental has provided more than 12,000 veterans with free dental care—that’s $7.6 million donated dental services. Rigor calculated that Hulme's dental care treatment alone would normally cost between $4,000 and $5,000.
Now if that’s not patriotism, we don’t know what is. Thank you to Aspen Dental for all the good work that you do.