Dental office says thank you to veterans with free care

GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. - For millions of Americans, getting access to dental care services can be difficult. It's especially difficult for many veterans as they are not eligible for dental benefits through the Veterans Administration unless they are 100 percent disabled, have a service-related mouth injury, or were a prisoner of war.

Saturday, Aspen Dental in Guntersville served those who have served our country by offering free dental care.

Christy Hudson is a hygienist at the dental office; she volunteered her time to help out. She says it's because "It's just a thank you that y'all don't go unnoticed."

There are around 400,000 veterans who call Alabama home and Saturday, Guntersville Aspen Dental served 22 of those veterans.

Christopher Watkins from Huntsville is one of them. He said since he was young, he knew he wanted to be a soldier. "My dad was a soldier, he did 33 years. I did almost nine years. I did two tours in Iraq. I was stationed in Germany."

Watkins says he hasn't been to the dentist since he retired from the military so the 45-minute drive from Huntsville was worth it. He also invited all of his friends who are veterans and said at least three of them made an appointment.

"It's about a 45-minute drive for me, but I figured it was worth it to come get seen. I sent it to every veteran I know; I actually know three now who are getting their appointments done," said Watkins.

The dental clinic provided a variety of services from teeth cleanings to root canals. Dr. Tara Cochran says their priority was revealing pain. "Today much of the focus is going to be on getting people out of pain and helping them as much as possible in that aspect."

To the veterans, it means more than just a free check-up. "I really appreciate that there are still people out there who care and are willing to provide these services," said Watkins.

The day of service is just one small way to give back to those who have made great sacrifices for all of us.

Since it's launch in 2014 Aspen Dental has served 22,000 veterans through their day of service efforts.

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