Heath for Heroes gives veterans free dental services

For the fourth year in a row, Minnesota State University, Mankato’s College of Allied Health and Nursing is hosting Health for Heroes, a free event created to honor and provide services for Mankato-area veterans.

“We just came up with this idea because there are a lot of veterans who don’t have access to dental care. They don’t have dental insurance, so they can’t get dental treatment,” said Pamela Briese, assistant professor in the Department of Dental Education and a leader with the event. “So, we were made aware of that by veterans that were coming into the clinic and telling us that they did not have dental insurance.”

In this event there will be free services available for veterans to take advantage of. Some of these services include dental cleanings, exams and fluoride treatments.

Briese explained, “Our dental clinic offers free and reduced services for people that qualify and so we thought ‘Well, let’s have a day so that we can honor all of the active, reserve and retired military people that don’t have access to care.’” 

Along with the dental program, other departments in the college will be offering free services for the veterans. The Communication Sciences and Disorders program will provide free hearing screenings and there will also be free health and wellness resources available through various other programs in the college. 

“We decided after the first year that we were asked by Speech and Hearing if they could participate in it too. And then it kind of evolved. We asked the whole College of Allied Health and Nursing to see what services they could offer to the veterans,” Breise said. “It’s just kind of become a collaborative thing between all of us to provide some help for these veterans to be well.”

Military and Veteran Success Coordinator Tim Adams believes this gives the MNSU veterans the opportunity to focus on their health and not have to worry about the price that typically comes with these services.

“What it really provides is a chance for them to interact with some veterans. And it gives the veterans and the community a chance to get some much needed dental or health care,” he stated.

Adams himself has attended this event in the past.

“I was really impressed with the quality of the dental program. I was expecting to walk in and see something out of the 1950s, but they have absolute, state-of-the-art, training,” Adams said. “The people were very professional, it seemed like they were all very focused on patient care. I was really impressed with the quality of care that they were able to provide. Clearly, the training through the dental program is absolutely top notch at this school.” 

The Health for Heroes not only provides oral and physical health services for the veterans, but it also gives them an opportunity to feel supported.

“What I really like is, I consider our school to be very veteran friendly,” Adams stated. “The dental program looking to say, ‘Okay, we can provide to the veterans on this special day a help that they could need. For some people who have mental health problems with people going to get dental care and such, this is a way for them to show support for veterans.”

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