(ABC4 NEWS – EPHRAIM, UT) It’s Veteran’s Day – the 11th Day of the 11th Month. A day that has been set aside to remember and honor the men and woman that have served our country. In this Utah Caring Stories, I got the chance to tell a story about veterans helping veterans.
Dennis Matthews, CEO, New Smiles for Veterans served our country in Vietnam. He told me; “There are 20 million veterans in the United States. There are 150 thousand veterans in Utah and they need help.”
New Smiles for Veterans is trying to bridge a gap in the healthcare system.
Matthews told me something I didn’t know. “Unless you are 100 percent disabled you can’t get dental work. I try to take care of the 99 percent;” he said.
Dr. Colton Douglas stresses the importance of dental health; “There is more to a dentist than keeping people’s smiles bright and nice. Teeth are very important for digestion and overall health.”
Matthews stared his non-profit because he is worried about his fellow veterans. “It’s a job that will make you cry sometime. You see the teeth that these veterans have. Some of them have no teeth at all. None. How do you exist with no teeth or jagged teeth or your teeth are falling out?”
Connecting veterans in need with dentists is rewarding. He told me about helping a veteran in Ohio; “He said, I have to have three teeth pulled, just three. Then they can work on my hip and do me a hip operation. Because, if you have any infection in your body they can’t operate at all. I found three that would take care of him. He got his teeth pulled. He got the hip operation. That’s a big thing to me.”
As a veteran himself, Dr. Douglas is honored to participate in the New Smiles for Veterans program. “I love being a dentist. I love being in the military. When you are in the military there is a special bond that you have with, for me especially those soldiers that have served before me.”
Dr. Douglas has a message for fellow dentists. “If each of us do just a little, we can do a lot. Dennis Matthews added; “Help me. Help these veterans that have given everything for this country.”
These stories deserve to be told. These are Utah Caring Stories. I’m Doug Jessop, ABC4 News.