MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University School Dentistry hosted a ‘Veterans Oral Health Day’ on Friday to provide free dental care to veterans.
Around 52 veterans signed up, and others walked-in for initial oral assessments, treatment planning, and addressing emergency needs. If vets needed extensive care, they were given a treatment plan and an appointment date to come back and receive that care. Care was facilitated by WVU students like Jason Solensky, a D3 dental student, who said the experience was an honor.
Anytime you get to work on a hero is always an honor, so being able to be here to help veterans like this — really, you can’t compare it. I mean this these people go out there and sacrifice themselves, put their lives on the line for the country. It’s the least we can do. So in terms of coming in today, I was super happy, super excited, and, most of all, too, you get to know and meet some of these veterans, and they have some stories that really open your eyes up to everything. It’s really — it’s really an honor.Jason Solensky – D3 Dental Student
Samantha Roberts, a senior dental hygiene student, also helped administer treatment. Like Solensky, she said she wanted to take part as a means of showing her gratitude to veterans.
I love that we can provide oral healthcare to our veterans in this environment. And I also like that it provides us an opportunity to get to know the veterans in our community and allow them to tell us their stories and their experiences, and let us appreciate more of what they’ve done during their service for our country.Samantha Roberts – Senior Dental Hygiene Student
Both students said they are grateful the university provides them with a chance to thank veterans for their service by providing a much-needed service.
In fact, both said they hope to replicate these efforts in their professional careers.
“Giving back to the community is honestly one of the things I joined this profession for,” Solensky said. “And giving back to veterans is even — it’s on another level. So, in short, yes. I plan on giving back a lot to the community. I plan on having a lot of veterans events. And like I said, this is for them, this isn’t for us. This is the minimum we can do, having one day in my office for them to come in, that’s like the very least I can do to say thank you.”
In turn, Roberts said while she will never own her own practice, but she still plans on speaking out for the need to provide these kinds of services for vets.
“As a dental hygienist, I think that I can definitely have my input to my dentist that I’m working under,” Roberts said. “I would definitely encourage that he consider giving back to our veterans by providing care to them. I think that’s a really good way I could use my voice in my private practice. Other than that, there’s not much I can do — I’m not going to own my own practice. But I hope I can use my voice to explain the importance of giving back to our veterans.”
A lack of insurance or the funds to pay out-of-pocket leaves many veterans unable to receive dental care and treatment. The cost of care for one veteran to receive oral health exams was estimated to be $250.
If you are interested in contributing to WVU’s veterans’ oral healthcare fund, you can do so by visiting its Give site. Donors should enter Fund 2U201 when specifying the designation of gifts. Or reach out to Karen Coombs, director of development for the dental school, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 304-216-3784.