As Americans observe Veterans Day, a local nonprofit organization is doing its part to honor vets by providing free dental work to two local army veterans.
It’s a dental procedure that’s generally expensive, about $50,000 or so. Two Central Coast veterans are receiving the procedure free thanks to Dentistry4Vets, an organization which just began about a month ago.
“I got a glimpse of it a week or so ago when they did the pre-op with the molds,” says army veteran Bernie McDermott. “They showed me my smile with actual teeth and it was amazing.”
For McDermott, it’s about regaining what he once had.
The 74-year-old will be getting a full set of teeth–top and bottom–after open-heart surgery forced him to have his teeth pulled years ago.
“You can’t really push yourself in society without teeth,” McDermott explains.
59 year-old Tony White will also be receiving extensive dental work.
“Every morning when I brush my teeth and get ready to go to work I have this secret no one knows about but I know and it causes low self esteem,” White says.
White lost his bottom teeth to drugs and alcohol. He won his battle with with addiction and has reason to smile. He knows he’ll get it with this procedure.
“I feel like my life will change and if my life changes then I’m gonna do what it takes to help the next veteran and the next veteran because I think this is a very important part of our life,” says White.
The work is expected to be completed by Monday afternoon and after that it’s all about Tony and Bernie doing their best to care for their new teeth.
The person who co-founded Dentistry4Vets is a Navy veteran and works in the dental field.
Dr. George Yellich and his wife Patricia say they talked to dozens of veterans across the Central Coast who have said there are a lot of veterans in need of dental service in some way.
The Yellich’s are looking to provide that service as a way to give back to local veterans.
“I’m sure there’s severe mental consequences but if we could give them a good smile for them to go out and engage both professionally and socially, I think we’ll solve a lot of problems in the physical and mental area as well,” says Patricia Yellich.
“The smile that they will have on Monday will be incredible,” says Dr. George Yellich. “We’re hoping we can show the people in the county what we can do with this sort of procedure.
There’s talks of Dentistry4Vets acquiring and updating the old Post Office at Fort Ord. For now, Dr. Yellich along with his wife and fellow dentists will work out of their current offices.