Veterans and active military personnel got some help with their dental needs Wednesday during Freedom Smiles day at Dr. Alanson Randol’s dental offices in Roseburg.

About 35 veterans and current military members signed up for dental care for a wide range of ailments.

Dr. Emily Gaunt said for many of the veterans, they are way overdue for dental care and she is more than happy to help out.

“Mostly we do things that can be accomplished the same day like fillings, extractions, exams, and cleanings,” Gaunt said. “It’s a good feeling. I’m using something that I can do and everyone is working with their strengths and helping people.”

If any of the participants needed more complicated procedures, they scheduled another appointment at no cost to the veteran.

Many of the veterans say are not able to get dental care through Veterans Affairs unless they are 100% disabled.

Alfred Chapple, a war-era, non-combat Navy veteran from 1988 to 1992, who travels around the country, said he couldn’t get into the Roseburg VA Medical Center’s dental office, so he was excited to be able to get to see a dentist. Chapple wanted to get checked for cavities and have a cleaning, which he hadn’t done for a while.

“This is pretty valuable because I’m on a limited budget and I can’t afford insurance for dental,” Chapple said. “It’s hard to get (dental care), but this is great.”

Julia Yarbrough brought her partner, 80-year-old Jonathan Tilley, to the event. Tilley is a Marine veteran who was in the Bay of Pigs Invasion in Cuba in 1961. He hadn’t had dental care for some time.

“It means he can afford to have his teeth cleaned,” Yarbrough said. “This was very nice of Dr. Randol. (Tilley) really appreciates it.”

Jana Foster, an Air Force veteran from 1981 to 1985, who worked as a small engine mechanic in Alaska, heard about the event and signed up immediately.

“I think this is awesome, I was tickled pink,” Foster said. “It’s been like seven or eight years since I had my teeth cleaned. I was due.”

Gaunt said the patients are very grateful for the opportunity to get their teeth fixed.

“We worked on one guy for like an hour and a half and got eight fillings done and I just kept going and going and going, and I said, ‘You sure you don’t want a break,’ and he said, ‘No I’m good, just keep going.’ They’re grateful and they need it,” Gaunt said. “That’s why they’re here.”

This was the second year in a row that Randol has hosted the Freedom Smiles event.

Reporter Dan Bain can be reached at 541-957-4221 or e-mail at dbain@nrtoday.com.

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Dan Bain is the health reporter for The News-Review. He previously worked at KPIC and 541 Radio.

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