Latino Veterans, others to receive free dental care
By Kevin Milliken for La Prensa
May 14, 2013: 84-year old Abelino Ruiz made a fortunate drive down Sylvania Ave. last year, when he noticed something he could use.
“I saw the marquee that it was free dental care for veterans,” he recalled. “They set me right up.”
The Korean and Vietnam War veteran not only received a free dental cleaning, but had a filling taken care of, too—also at no cost. But the U.S. Army retiree was even more pleased by something else he noticed at last year’s event.
“They were very nice. I was very happy to see them take care of so many of my friends, other veterans,” Ruiz said.
The former Army combat medic was the oldest of four brothers to serve in the U.S. Army during the Korea War. He even volunteered to serve during Operation Desert Storm in Iraq long after he retired after a 23-year military career in 1969, but was never called to active duty. Between serving overseas, Ruiz worked in pediatrics at an Army hospital at Fort Rucker in Alabama.
Ruiz was raised in Austin, TX, but his family moved to Northwest Ohio as migrant farm workers. He later worked for a fertilizer plant and as a construction worker before enlisting. He eventually became a platoon sergeant in the Army.
Ruiz appreciates the recognition of military veterans so much that he intends to go back this year, too. But the dentist who helped him last year gained a new patient in the process.
“To this day, I still have that doctor take care of my teeth,” he said. “They’re very concerned about the veterans. They were very professional with us.”
Latino veterans and their military counterparts will receive free dental care during the fourth annual Stars, Stripes, and Smiles event to be held Friday, May 17. Volunteers and staff from Hires Dental Care, 3951 W Sylvania Ave., want to show their appreciation for the service of Toledo-area veterans to our country by honoring them with free basic dental care.
“Now more than ever, I know there are people out there that need dental services, whether they are out of a job, or just don’t have dental insurance. Stars, Stripes, and Smiles is our way of giving back to the community and helping our veterans who have given so much to us,” said Dr. Rick Hires.
Three dentists and volunteers, including optometrist Dr. Tracey Needham and nurses from ProMedica, intend to help over 110 veterans throughout the day. Patients will receive either a free filling, extraction or cleaning. Veterans also will be offered free blood pressure checks and vision screenings. Drop-in appointments will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day.
In the last three years, Stars, Stripes, and Smiles has helped 238 U.S. veterans with over $58,000 in free dental care treatment.
Veterans and those who assist them can find more information by calling the dental office at 419-475-6673 or at the web sites www.hiresdentalcare.com or www.starsstripesandsmiles.com.