WKCTC offers Salutes and Smiles to veterans for 5th year

PADUCAH — For 98 years, Americans have remembered those who served our country in uniform on Nov. 11 — first as Armistice Day, and then, since 1954, as Veterans Day.

Starting Nov. 1st, West Kentucky Community and Technical College will offer dental cleanings to veterans through the Smiles and Salutes program.

Students will provide military veterans with dental cleanings for $20 under faculty supervision.

This will be the program’s fifth year. Last year, 57 veterans participated, and WKCTC hopes to have even more this year.

“We see a lot of people from the community. Kids, adults, veterans, seniors, everyone.” said assistant hygiene student Susan Bailey.

Students in the dental and hygiene assistant program apply what they learn in the classroom to real clients.

“Coming into the program, I felt like I didn’t know anything.” Bailey said. “Coming into my second year, I feel like I know so much more than I started with. I feel like by the end of these two years, I’ll be ready for the career.”

A lot of Bailey’s patients last year were veterans. She said she enjoys being able to educate them about their general health as well.

“It’s a good feeling.” Bailey said. “Especially treating those who don’t get general dentist care anywhere else, especially because we’re giving back to the community and the veterans that have served for us.”

Allison Hopkins wanted to reach out the community through the students’ dental practice.

“Veterans are a big part of our community.” Hopkins said. “So that is something that as faculty and staff, we all come together and decide how can we make a difference. And so, offering this in the month of November is a way that we feel like we can help out.”

Bailey said some veterans haven’t been to the dentist in years, and its great for them to take advantage of the program.

“It’s a way to pay them back for their service.” Bailey said.

The students will treat the military patients on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 a.m. or 1 p.m. in the Anderson Technical Building, room 230.

Appointments are required and are being accepted now. They can be made by calling 270-534-3437. Proof of military affiliation and a photo ID is required.

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