They say one person can make a difference and this event started with a dentist in California, Dr. Karin Irani, who learned that the only Veterans who received VA dental benefits were those who had a 100% disability or a dental related disability. Because she knew many veterans were falling through the cracks and unable to get dental care, she opened her office for a day around Veterans Day to provide that dental care at no cost. Soon her local dental association endorsed it, then the California Dental Association and then the American Dental Association. It has now spread across the country and this is our third year in New York State and our local dental association the Ninth District Dental Association who is the local component of the American Dental Association-the voice and guardian for America’s dental health-is very grateful for Touro Dental Health to open its wonderful facility to the Veterans today.
The New York State Dental Foundation, which is the charitable arm of the New York State Dental Association, has as their mission the support of programs and events that provide dental care to underserved populations in our state. For that reason, the Foundation has donated $2,500.00 to Touro Dental Health plus an additional $1,300.00 in dental supplies to support Touro’s initiative today. We also have a dozen dentists from the Ninth District Dental Association who have taken a day away from their offices to help as mentors. Places like Touro Dental Health can be an oasis in the desert for underserved populations in that they can offer dental care at a reduced fee structure and it is everyone’s hope that the pro-bono event today will enable those veterans and their families to get the dental care they need and deserve now and in the future.
This event is also meant to recognize the sacrifices that service members and their families have made in safeguarding the freedoms as Americans we all enjoy. We often don’t think about those sacrifices but today professional dentistry with this event wants the veterans and their families to know we acknowledge what they have given to this country and our appreciation for doing so. We want to thank Dean Ronnie Myers for embracing this project at its first mention. The Committee headed by Rachel Silva has done an excellent job in the planning and outreach and we have been very impressed by the students on the committee. Seeing them in action tells us that organized dentistry will be in good hands for many years to come. Of course a big thanks goes to all the faculty and staff who are taking part today in honoring our veterans.
We want to thank the elected officials who are here supporting the veterans, not only today but all year long. We are indebted to the Executive Directors of all the county Veterans Service Agencies who helped us get the word out and all they do on an everyday basis to help our veterans have better lives. Hopefully this event can make a difference for many of the veterans and their families that have come today and who will have better dental health in the years to come.
Dr. Carl Tegtmeier
Chair, Ninth District Dental Association’s Committee on Dental Health Planning and Hospital Dentistry
Trustee New York State Dental Foundation