TOPEKA — Most veterans don’t qualify for dental benefits through the VA. Seeing this need, six Kansas dentists came together to provide dental care for veterans.
Adjusting to life after serving can be difficult. One aspect that isn’t discussed as much is the loss of health benefits after serving.
“In the military, it’s taken care of for you,” Dr. Jeff Larkin said. “Your medical and dental care, all that is covered when you’re on active duty.”
Members of the Kansas dental community put together Dental Military Day this year to address this issue, offering free appointments for veterans who don’t have access, resources or insurance for dental care.
One local veteran who visited the clinic was grateful for the opportunity. He says he would love to see other healthcare places offer mental or physical health services in a similar way.
“Any kind of care that could help any veteran in need, whether it’s for jobs or for any kind of help would be beneficial,” Veteran James Terhardt said. “Not only to the community, but to veterans and people like Dr. Larkin.”
Gathering volunteers from across the state wasn’t as difficult a task as you might think. Dental assistants, hygienists, office staff and, of course, the dentists themselves, jumped at the opportunity to help those in the community.
“There’s a lot of people who choose to make that sacrifice and help serve their country, and we want to help serve them as well,” Dr. Larkin said.
He has one final message for those in similar positions.
“I would love to throw a challenge out there. There’s lots of other dentists out there that are vets themselves, it’d be great if this caught on and spread.”
This hopefully won’t be the last time they do this. The dentists say they hope to make this a yearly event for veterans.