One Vet to Another

With absolutely nowhere to go and in agonizing pain, a young vet was scheduled to be seen by Dr. Reese, a retired Army veteran and volunteer at the Olympia Union Gospel Mission’s No-Fee Dental Clinic.

After checking in, the young man had a digital X-ray taken to determine what issue was generating the tooth pain. Dr. Reese combed over the X-ray, which didn’t show much; but he was suspect of an area that needed a closer look. Dental Clinic Manager Linda Barrett knew just the place to go to get help. Dr. Goerig’s office was very supportive and asked to have the patient come in for a CT Scan in 3D, designed specifically for dental use. The more detailed CT Scan exposed the outline of a large cyst in the sinuses that was pressing down on the nerve endings of the teeth and up on the eye, causing the excruciating pain.

Dr. Smith, a dedicated dental volunteer, performed the surgical procedure to remove the cyst at the Mission’s Dental Clinic. Barrett exclaimed, “Dr. Smith so calmly and confidently removed a ping-pong ball sized cyst.” The procedure left a large indentation in the sinus cavity, which took a number of weeks to heal before further work could be done on the patient. A biopsy was sent to University of Washington for testing. It was a relief to get the report back stating that it wasn’t cancerous; but it was a type of cyst that could potentially grow back.

A thorough cleaning of the teeth took multiple appointments with volunteer hygienists, and Dr. Reese performed all the restorative dental work. “Vets separated from service don’t get dental care [through the VA] because most dental issues are not military related,” said Dr. Reese “I don’t even have dental coverage after retiring from the Army.” Because of the patient’s PTSD, he did have medical benefits, but didn’t have the means to get dental insurance to take care of the issues that were overwhelming him.

“In total, there was nearly $7,000 of dental work provided through the Mission’s No-Fee Dental Clinic,” says Barrett. “The Olympia Union Gospel Mission’s Clinic has been blessed with multiple specialists that help with very difficult scenarios.” Executive Director Skip Steffen observed that, “The Clinic has been a safety net in the community for the low-income who fall through the cracks. My deepest gratitude to our dedicated staff and volunteer dental professionals for their tireless work, and to our donors that give so generously of their finances to make this all possible.”

It does take your gift to provide this level of care. Please be there for the next man or woman that desperately needs help. You can truly impact a life today.

Read more in the current Newsletter.