By Marsha M. Brown
The free dental extractions for veterans that were organized for the purpose of alleviating dental pain that I’ve been writing about for weeks came to pass without a hitch on Friday, November 6, 2015 in Coinjock, N.C.
As veteran advocates, my sweetie pie Billy and I were invited to attend and we did just that. We wanted to be there…not for dental extractions ourselves but rather to offer support to the good people who deeply care about our veterans. On the way out of Manteo that morning I whispered in God’s ear a prayer for a good day – three generous medical professionals from Coinjock/Elizabeth City would be saying and showing their gratefulness to the men and women who had served and it was a blessing in the making. We took several boxes of NC4VETS Resource Guide magazines, V.A. Benefit booklets and American flags to distribute and we appreciated every opportunity afforded to us to put them in the hands of veterans and their spouses throughout the day.
The dentist trio had established criteria for veterans who wanted to be seen and it was easy…only to ascertain medical clearance two weeks prior to the event to ensure their medications and/or physical condition would not conflict with the extraction process. And another thing, veterans didn’t have to be financially challenged…this event wasn’t about what a vet had or didn’t have…it wasn’t about the money…veterans also weren’t required to be of specific military rank or have been an officer…they didn’t have to be retired…they could have been drafted or they could have enlisted…actually…all the three dentists asked was that veterans come and be personally honored for their service and sacrifice. These three fine men and their hospitable staff just wanted to show their respect and acknowledgement to veterans and offer them relief of dental pain at no charge…whatsoever.
On the way to Coinjock that morning, I called Dean ‘Doc’ Tyler to let him know we were on our way and well before the scheduled event was to start, 14 vets were already on site…some having driven long distances to get there and some having arrived as early as 6:00 AM.
Once we arrived at Dr. Morgan’s office on Worth Guard Rd., the parking lot was busy and a big tent that had been graciously provided for the occasion hovered over long tables of fresh hot coffee and pastries of all kinds – it was clear, the day offered nourishment for both for the tummy and the soul. Initially we were greeted by our friends ‘Doc’ and Sheila Tyler and then the dedicated members of American Legion Post 288 Coinjock. As we settled in several ladies waiting for their husband said, “Thank you for what you all are doing”. I responded, “My husband and I are from Dare County and we just wanted to be here for support, it’s the dentists, their staff and their good friend ‘Doc’ Tyler who organized this event”. I further explained that “Dr. Pat” had wanted to offer this special day of care for veterans for a while and that we were all glad she and her husband had attended. But…I doubt they even heard me…they were happy, grateful and excited expressing their joy about it…one describing the severe pain her husband had suffered for a long time but with no insurance they had not been able to afford to have the matter addressed…until today.
Another lady who sat close by joined in the conversation expressing her thankfulness for what they were doing and how it had touched her husband. I sat there under the canopy, watching and listening…to the ladies…and to my Billy and the other vets & members of Post 288 exchange words, phrases and comments and my eyes filled with tears. These guys had been touched by the day…it meant the world to each of them that Dr. Pat and the others had shown them this respect. I looked away when I heard the exit door to the office open and out came a tall lanky fella…another veteran like the others before him with puffed out cheeks and a big white gauze separating his lips. His barely audible voice uttered, “Thank you” to the men under the tent. As he stood there beside me sitting down I reached out for his hand and I squeezed it. When he looked down at me I said “Thank you sir. Thank you for your service to our country and for your sacrifice. God bless you”. Well…he seemed moved…enough so that I heard a gulp of air and I expected him to break down. That example folks…is the purest form of acknowledgment that he meant something to a stranger – it was simple and it was precious. What it was…was…unforgettable. It is called one hand reaching for another in a few seconds of heartfelt gratitude that a veteran was appreciated. Think about that. Think about how a simple few words can make a veterans day…make a grown man almost weep…make a man feel that all he went through really did matter…at least to somebody. I will remember that day. I will remember the dentist’s kindness…their pride and love for veterans everywhere and their desire to make a difference in our hero’s lives.
Overall even with yucky weather until noon…it was a beautiful day. One couple had driven three hours to get there…not just because it saved them money…but because they wanted to thank the dentists who thanked veterans. The turnout was good but it was a first…and I don’t think it will be the last. Dr. Pat is looking toward next year at touching more veteran’s lives with respect, honor and dental remedy.
As a nation we’re good people…we care greatly for our veterans and we need to be ever mindful of showing them just how much we care e-v-e-r-y single day. Almost a week has passed now and I can promise you…a bunch of vets feel better in their mouth…but in their heart too…and Dr. Patrick Morgan, Dr. David Morgan, Dr. Frank Bald, their staff and the rest of us who were privy to that day feel better too.
Billy and I wish to thank them too because this event was for all veterans…Dare County vets included…and from wherever veterans would have come for help that day. Awesome people…awesome veterans…a real kick off to our season of Thanksgiving and gratitude…a reminder of some of our greatest blessings…our veterans.
A lot of special events have been taking place and will through the next week. Just know that if you’re a veteran that you are special…you are our heroes…and you deserve every show of honor extended to you. Thank you men and women for all that you have done. We love you and we’re so proud of you all. Be a veteran friend and call me (252) 202-2058 if you know a veteran who needs help in some way. Until next time…be happy, be safe and be proud. God bless you. Stay tuned.