Beyond Veterans Day: Illinois dentist provides care to disadvantaged vets
November 05, 2018
Service: Dr. Paul Palliser, right, poses for a photo with his wife, Linda, and patient, Brock Sloan. Mr. Sloan is one of several veterans Dr. Palliser’s practice has “adopted” by providing free dental services throughout the year.
Cary, Ill. — During last year’s Veterans Day holiday, Dr. Paul Palliser decided to provide free and low-cost dental care to veterans as part of a program organized by the Illinois State Dental Society.
However, as the event day approached, very few veterans had signed up through the program.
“What we found was that many veterans couldn’t come to our dental office because they were busy with other functions,” Dr. Palliser said.
A patient of his, who is an active military serviceman, told Dr. Palliser that many veterans are attending parades, speaking with students at schools and choosing other Veterans Day-related celebrations.
This same patient encouraged Dr. Palliser to instead provide dental services to veterans during other days of the year and to reach out to TLS Veterans, a local nonprofit serving the homeless and disadvantaged veterans in McHenry County area of Illinois.
Taking the advice to heart, Dr. Palliser today has adopted six veterans from TLS Veterans whom he provides free dental services, including cleanings, scalings, restorations, making partials both top and bottom, etc. So far, his dental office has donated more than $16,000 in dental services, with an additional $8,000 to be scheduled to be completed before the of this year.
“I didn’t know these nonprofit programs existed,” Dr. Palliser said. “But I knew this was the right thing to do. It’s about giving back and showing we do appreciate their service. We just took it to a different level.”
When it comes to dental care, many veterans simply fall through the cracks. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans have to meet certain eligibility factors to receive dental care, such as service-related dental disability or condition, or be a former prisoner of war.
Last November, Dr. Palliser said, he called TLS Veterans, which provides housing assistance, employment assistance and transition support groups to veterans, and asked to send over a few veterans to receive donated dental care. The veterans who came to his dental office ranged from those in their 20s to those who are over 70 years old.
For those adopted veterans that required additional work, Dr. Palliser reached out to some colleagues who were more than willing to donate their services. These include Drs. Kurt Bruksch, an oral surgeon in Crystal Lake, Illinois; Joseph Baldassano, an endodontist from Inverness, Illinois; and John Distel, an endodontist from Barrington, Illinois.
Recently, Dr. Palliser and his staff received a note from one of the patients, a combat veteran, he helped this year.
“[Dr. Palliser’s] support goes so much further than the mere words ‘Thanks for your service,’” the patient wrote. “You sir exemplify the real gratitude of America for what we did, for what we saw and for what were a part in war. You have not forgotten. Your work with me will never be forgotten either.”
In a perfect world, Dr. Palliser said, these veterans would get regular dental care and service.
“Until that happens,” he said. “I encourage other dentists to look for similar nonprofits in their communities and do the same.”
For more information on TLS Veterans, visit tlsveterans.org. Those interested in learning more about Dr. Palliser’s program, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.