KILLEEN, Texas – Veterans are getting some much-needed dental care this weekend, as a mobile dental clinic is coming to Killeen.
Dr. Matthew Franzen has teamed up with members of his community to bring the state-wide clinic.
“It’s important for the people to know that, you know, if you’re gonna serve our country then you’re gonna get served in return,” says Franzen.
Franzen was inspired when he saw how many veterans in Texas don’t have dental care through the VA. He also believes proper dental care can go unnoticed.
“Most people underestimate how much you rely on a good smile to get you places in life,” says Franzen. “Not to mention the infections. You’re taking people out of pain. They’re living in pain, and they can’t afford to get a tooth taken out or a root canal or to get it fixed.”
Dentists from as far as El Paso and Amarillo will come to Killeen to perform cleanings, fillings, and partial route canals.
The Smiles Foundation that runs the event is transforming the retired Fairway Middle School gym into a clinic that expects to see anywhere from 500-800 patients this weekend.
Smiles Foundation treasurer Dr. Richard Smith has helped in over 75 events like these since 2001.
“It’s giving back,” says Smith. “I’ve been very blessed. I’ve been in practice 48 years. I’ve received a lot of blessings, and this is our way of giving back for the blessings we’ve received.”
Franzen sees it as an important way of giving back, as well.
“If it wasn’t for the veterans, who knows if I’d be where I am today?,” says Franzen. “I mean, they help protect our right to be able to practice in a free country and, you know, they deserve it more than anyone else.”
The clinic has taken over a year to plan, and Franzen has raised $65,000 to put it on. It will go from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.