By Kenzie Ferguson
May is National Military Appreciation Month, an observance honoring the service of the United States Armed Forces and the important role they have played in shaping the history of our country. Multiple events recognizing military milestones happen in May, including Memorial Day. While we aren’t able to come together physically to celebrate this year, we can come together to show our support in other ways.
This year we are engaged in a different fight, and the armed forces have risen to the challenge once again. The military is actively helping with the response to COVID-19, deploying reserve medical personnel to hospitals and clinics across the country and distributing needed supplies to communities.
The Delta Dental Community Care Foundation prioritizes increasing access to oral health care for vulnerable populations. Unfortunately, many of our veterans are not able to get the necessary care they need. To date, we have given funding to more than 50 clinics that offer services to veterans. Here are some of the ways we support our military and military families:
- Giving Veterans Back Their Smiles – In Texas, we have sponsored the annual “Give Vets A Smile Day,” which offers free dental care to former military members, many of whom lack regular access to such services. This program is a unique collaboration between the UTHealth School of Dentistry and the UTHealth School of Nursing, which work with several Houston-area veterans organizations to identify those in need of dental care that is not covered by the Veterans Administration (VA). In 2019, 88 veterans participated in Give Vets a Smile Day, and 40 qualified for additional treatment throughout the year. At the 2019 event, 71 area veterans received a total of 374 treatments. More than half of the veterans who were screened and treated qualified for additional services and returned throughout the year.
- Scholarships for Oral Health Education – We’ve also partnered with the Air Force Association, giving funding for The Military Coalition to provide scholarships to spouses, dependents and those transitioning out of active duty services to pursue education related to oral health and wellness for each of the five branches of the military.
- Comprehensive Dental Care – Most recently, we awarded $50,000 to the Dental Lifeline Network to help fund the Lifeline Heroes Challenge for Vets, which aims to provide dental care to 1,100 veterans this year alone.
But it isn’t just our Foundation that supports military families and veterans. Through our employee volunteer program, Smiling It Forward, employees have volunteered more than 200 hours with causes dedicated to helping veterans, servicemen and women and their families.
If you would like to support Military nonprofits this month, you can donate to:
Although we might not be able to assemble this year, we can still honor members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marines, Space Force and National Guard and their family members by:
- Interviewing a veteran to acknowledge their experience and share their story;
- Placing flags or flowers on the graves of soldiers at your local cemetery; or
- Donating blood.
Especially during times of national crisis, we need to honor the tremendous service and commitment of the military personal and their families. National Military Appreciation Month gives us all the opportunity to acknowledge our armed forces’ bravery, dedication and contribution to this country.