This past Saturday, December 15th 2012, Dr. Erik Mendelsohn teamed up with other local dentists and specialists from the Linwood and Mays Landing areas performing all aspects of dentistry at no cost to all veterans.  This Saturday’s Dental Veterans Stand Down event aimed to provide exams, cleanings, fillings, root canals, and extractions that veterans need to get back on their feet.

Stand Downs are one part of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ efforts to provide services to homeless veterans.  Stand Downs are typically one to three day events providing services to homeless Veterans such as food, shelter, clothing, health screenings, VA and Social Security benefits counseling, and referrals to a variety of other necessary services, such as housing, employment and substance abuse treatment.  Stand Downs are collaborative events, coordinated between local VAs, other government agencies, and community agencies who serve the homeless.

There are some veterans who return from services and don’t have a job or the money to take care of dental care on their own. When a veteran’s teeth go bad, it can exacerbate a variety of health conditions and even lead to life-threatening heart problems. Bad teeth can also trigger depression and a sense of hopelessness. “They fall through the cracks and it’s our responsibility to take care of the men and women who have served our country,” says Dr. Erik Mendelsohn.

Many of veterans have not had dental exams for fifteen years or more and their mouths are full of abscesses and such. Their conditions are often very complicated, and they have been in pain for a long time.

By early afternoon on Saturday, Dr. Erik Mendelsohn and the other dentists and technicians had seen numerous veterans. Dentists were busy helping patients on reclining chairs, providing X-rays, exams, and, most frequently, extractions. The staff that volunteered on Saturday from Serenity Smile Designs included Dr. Erik Mendelsohn, Chrissi, and Erica.

Dental and eye care problems are the “hidden” conditions of homeless and downtrodden veterans. There just isn’t much public perception that these are problems.

However, with veteran events like those of this past weekend, Dr. Erik Mendelsohn and other local South Jersey dentists and specialists are taking steps to ensure that dental problems will not be seen as “hidden” conditions any longer when concerning U.S. veterans.

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President, once said “A Nation that forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten.”   Dr. Erik Mendelsohn and his team at Serenity smile Designs will make certain these brave men and women receive our gratitude.

Serenity Smile Designs’ participation with South Jersey’s Dental Veterans Stand Down Day will be the first of many for years to come!