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Rockwall dentists offer free dental care to veterans

Local veterans can request an appointment through the Terry Fisher American Legion Post 117 in Rockwall

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Dental check-ups are a critical part of your health. Estimates show around 27% of adults don’t have dental insurance coverage. Even with insurance, cost may get in the way. That’s where a local dental team comes in.

Marine veteran Jeff Skinner said it took some arm-twisting from a fellow vet, but Skinner ended up in the dentist’s chair last November.

“It had been many, many years since I had gone to the dentist,” Skinner said.

Looking back, the small business owner in Rockwall County said he was glad to get a checkup, cleaning and oral cancer screening.

“I ended up getting it done. Looking at it from hindsight, it was a good thing,” said Skinner.

He and around 90 veterans didn’t pay a dime, thanks to a father-daughter dentist team offering a free dental day for Veterans Day. They call it D-Day for V-Day.

“The whole reason that we all loved being in the military was the camaraderie and that day is exactly that,” said Skinner.

D-DAY FOR V-DAY

D-Day for V-Day began in 2017 after Dr. Stan Lowrance, who prefers to be called Dr. Stan, heard about a veteran who needed extensive work and didn’t have dental coverage.

“I picked the phone up and called Dr. Stan, and I said, ‘I have a woman that needs help and she's a veteran and you need to do something for her,’” recalled Tom Galli, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel with the Terry Fisher American Legion Post 117 in Rockwall.

“She came over that very day and he started treating her,” Galli added.

After that, Stan asked if he could partner with the Legion to treat more vets.

“I said, ‘You bet your … there is. So, we started,'" said Galli.

The Legion’s volunteers handle back-office logistics like paperwork and scheduling on D-Day for V-Day.

“As soldiers, that's kind of our natural thing, right? Planning and organizing and executing. We do that well,” explained Galli.

Stan and his daughter, Dr. Shanae Lowrance, donate the care.

“Everybody gets a cleaning and everybody gets some type of work done,” said Shanae Lowrance. “If they need a filling or an extraction, we'll do as much as we can in an allotted time slot. If they need to come back, we can always get them back for follow-up care.”

Since that first year, the dentists said their team of volunteers has grown to around 40 dental professionals, including dentists from other practices, hygienists and lab techs who all donate their time.

“We did $37,000 worth of dentistry last year,” said Stan of the one-day event.

The dentists said they see a range of patients, from veterans who have some dental coverage to those who may not otherwise be able to afford treatment.

Dental care isn’t a given for all veterans who may get other outpatient medical benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Military service history, current health and living situation determine what class a veteran falls in and the specific dental benefits in that class. According to the most recent numbers provided by the VA, 558,000 veterans actively use their VA dental benefits.

The U.S. Census 2021 one-year American Community Survey estimated there are around 16.5 million civilian veterans of the armed forces.

A VA Dental Insurance Program may offer discounted private dental insurance for some veterans and family members.

“We need to fill in those gaps. My dream is literally any dental office, it doesn't have to be one this size, can do this,” said Stan.

This year, D-Day For V-Day aims to see 100 veterans on Nov. 10 at Lowrance Dental in Rockwall. The Legion is taking appointments now. Local veterans can request an appointment through the Legion here.

Proof of veteran service, like a DD214, VA medical card, ID card, or a driver's license with veteran status, must be shown at check-in.

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