James Anderson

For Our Veterans

By the time I was 8 years old, I’d stayed the night at my grandparent’s house at least a hundred times. But one particular night, I had an exceptionally terrifying experience. Sometime after midnight, when we’d all been asleep for a couple hours, I awoke to my grandfather’s shouting and swearing, words that up until this point I’d never heard him say. I was mortified. I didn’t know if someone broke into the house, or if my grandmother had said something to upset him, all I knew was that my grandfather was very upset and worried. A few minutes after he stopped screaming, my grandmother came into the living room to see if I was awake. I asked her if grandpa was alright and what was wrong. She explained to me that sometimes my grandfather had really scary nightmares about what happened to him and his friends when he was in the war. It took me a few years before I completely understood what that meant, but it always made me sad inside remembering those painful screams coming from his bedroom. Because of that experience with my grandfather, I’ve always been sympathetic for veterans and all that they endure to ensure our country remains the land of the free.  
This sympathy is something that I still carry with me to this day. Which is why I was disheartened to learn that most veterans don’t qualify for VA dental care. Fortunately, there are many people that are aware of this problem and on every Veteran’s Day they donate time and money to providing care for those uncovered veterans. This Veteran’s Day was no exception.
For dentists like Dr. Joan Laura out of Syracuse, New York, providing free dental work for veterans on Veteran’s Day is part of her patriotism. She has been providing dental service for veterans for seven years in a row. Dr. Laura is just one of the many people that donated their time to the cause but in just one day, she was able to help a lot of veterans. One of the most inspiring organizations I’ve seen in the realm of dental care for veterans is Smiles for FREEdom. According to their website, since 2015, Smiles for FREEdom has provided veterans over $450,000 in free dental care service and helped around 200 veterans! For these dentists, providing these services is “the least we could” for those that have given so much.
It’s easy to feel like there is nothing we can do to repay the services that our veterans provided us. That’s probably because we can’t. They’ve given far more than we could ever repay. However, it’s initiatives like these that provide a way to give back to those men and women that have given so much for our country. Smiles for FREEdom and Dr. Laura have provided great examples as to how to serve our fellow veterans, let’s follow their examples and extend our services to those that have served us.  Muhammad Ali once said “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” So, I guess you could say service to service members is the rent you pay for your room here in the United States of America.


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