Sixty-six U.S. military veterans received free urgent, palliative, therapeutic, and/or preventive dental care during the 9th Annual Give Vets a Smile held Nov. 3 at UTHealth Houston School of Dentistry.
Fourth-year dental students, second-year dental hygiene students, and faculty, residents, and staff from the Advanced Education in Endodontics, Advanced Education in General Dentistry, General Practice Residency, and Advanced Education in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery programs provided 431 treatments valued at $70,172. Since 2015, the School of Dentistry has provided over $398,371 of free care — through 3,341 treatments — to 651 veterans.
Give Vets a Smile is an annual, collaborative event between UTHealth Houston’s School of Dentistry and Cizik School of Nursing. This community outreach effort for local veterans is coordinated through Raha Naderi, RDH, MEd, interim community outreach director for the School of Dentistry; and Bridgette Pullis, PhD, RN, CHPN, director of Cizik’s Veterans Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program.
“At the School of Dentistry, we are dedicated to honoring the service of these men and women by serving them,” Naderi said. “Give Vets a Smile is made possible through the unwavering support of our dean, Dr. John Valenza, our collaboration with Cizik School of Nursing, and the generous funding from the Delta Dental Community Care Foundation, complemented by further support from community partners like Amegy Bank.
“Together, we not only brightened the smiles of our veterans, but also strengthened the bond of compassion within our community. This event exemplifies the profound difference we can make when we come together with a common purpose and a desire to serve.”
The veterans in need were identified by Camp Hope, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Women Veteran Services, City of Houston Office of Veterans Affairs, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Harris County Precinct 2 Veteran Services, Open Door Mission, U.S. Vets-Houston, and Volunteers of America-Texas.
“Cizik School of Nursing is proud to serve veterans in the community and on our campus,” Pullis said. We recognize our veteran students as leaders and strive to facilitate their transition from the military into professional nursing. Through Give Vets a Smile, we partner with our colleagues at the School of Dentistry to improve the health of veterans through dental care. Give Vets a Smile would be just a good idea without the time and talent of the faculty, staff, and students of the School of Dentistry and the Cizik School of Nursing. We are grateful to Dean Santa Maria and Dean John Valenza for their support as we look forward to continuing this collaboration for many years to come.”
Cizik School of Nursing was responsible for identifying and registering veterans in advance. On the day of the event, which was by invitation only, nursing students recorded the veterans’ vital signs.
Veterans were seen by a dental resident, dental student, and/or dental hygiene student based on dental care needs after necessary diagnostic X-rays and assessment. After their treatment, veterans also had the opportunity to receive flu vaccinations.
Support and volunteerism for the event was provided by Delta Dental Community Care Foundation and Amegy Bank.
Additional School of Dentistry support for Give Vets a Smile was provided by radiology staff from Clinical Services, along with dental assistants from The Fondren Foundation Special Patient Clinic and the Urgent Care Clinic.
Special thanks to the School of Dentistry’s Office of Patient Care staff and its two divisions — Division of Patient Support Services and Division of Clinical and Educational Support services staff for logistics, planning, and execution.
GIVE VETS A SMILE
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