Free dental care offered to veterans with Operation Stand Down
Operation Stand Down is coming to Fort Smith, allowing veterans to receive free dental care just in time for Veterans Day. It’s part of a program that began 10 years ago and will include eight dentists in Fort Smith this year.
In 2012, La Porte, Ind.-based Dr. Daniel Fridh noticed a trend of sloppy mouth among his former military patients, he knew something had to be done. A veteran who served in the Air Force for three years and completed his dental residency there, Fridh understood the demands placed on military men and women.
So he helped launch Operation Stand Down, a program to provide veterans with a free dental checkup and free or reduced aftercare services. The original program involved 22 volunteer dentists, served 90 veterans, and provided services worth $150,000.
This year, Dr. Charles Liggett has partnered with the program to offer veterans free tooth cleanings and extractions on Thursday, November 10. Although this is the first time Liggett has participated in Operation Stand Down, offered by the International College of Dentists (ICD), it is not the first time he has dedicated his time and resources to dental clinics. free. He founded the Weekend Dental Clinic and Free Extraction Day to provide people in need with free or affordable dental care, his website says. The idea for the projects grew out of his dental mission trips to Jamaica.
“I try to give back whenever I can. … In 2023, I will be making my 21st trip to Jamaica to offer free extractions. But it’s something I can do to help our veterans,” said said Liggett.
With the addition of River Valley Smiles at 8309 Phoenix Ave., where Liggett practices dentistry, Fort Smith will join five other Arkansas cities in bringing the program to area veterans. There will be eight dentists assisting with the operation at River Valley Smiles, along with all of the hygienists and dental assistants in the office. They will be assisted by dental hygiene students from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Liggett said.
Although this year’s services are limited to cleanings and extractions, Liggett said they may be able to expand these services in the future.
Veterans who want service should contact the local Veterans Administration (VA) – (479) 441-2600 – and schedule an appointment through them. No appointments will be available by calling the Liggett office directly.